I have this notion I am about fifteen years old in looks, and about nine mentally. I am often shocked when I see myself in pictures because I don't recognize the person. Or when I glimpse myself in the mirror at the gym…I look like somebody's mother. When did that happen?
I ran into a brother and sister last spring. It was apparent they didn't recognize me from high school. We weren't close back then, only polite to one another. Terrified, I felt as though I ought to re-introduce myself in case they recognized me.
The sister was ridiculously thin and toted an adorable baby in a designer sling. I had steroid weight gain, empty arms, a permanently pinched face and a bow-legged shuffle. The brother said "didn't you used to be ________ _______?"
Ouch. His sibling sucked down a Venti Frappuccino and remarked she was embarrassed she hadn't recognized me. Watching them bounce away, I wished I'd kept my mouth shut. I knew phone calls would be made, comments whispered "Sunshine has really gone downhill."
Yes, I'd done a lot of living in those years between graduation and that chance meeting at a coffee shop. The shell I call home ousted my journey. Each day offered shifts microscopic and seismic, and as I hit my thirties I started noticing crow's feet developing from years of eye-crinkling mirth. My skin seemed to have more bumps and lumps, probably from summers on the lake, in the woods. My cheeks drooped a little bit from enjoying delicious food. These are the positive memories mapped on my skin. This doesn't include what RA and AS have shared with me.
My birth name hasn't changed, but little else has stayed a faithful interpretation from memory. Loved ones have come and gone, the landscape of my favorite place on earth has evolved (devolved), my faith has come and gone with churches and exploded from new portals in unexpected places. I'm healthy, I'm sick, and my pain fluctuates with the attention span of a first grader. I'm walking, crawling, using a cane, dancing, spinning, sitting, resting. I'm dizzy with the speed of it all.
It was evident from the startled expressions of my former classmates that they were also rooted to portraiture of the past. I see these individuals I grew up with, their faces fixed stars, constellations growing dim in the sky of my past. I recognize them as part of a collection, and identify them through the faces of years ago, but I wonder how many faithful interpretations I'd recognize today? Even with the advent of Facebook and heavy use of social media, these titans of the past are rooted in some unchangeable form of long ago.
In my new world there must be no concrete; I need to invite the dervish in. The motif is change.