You’re Not The Girl You Think You Are
- Neil Finn/Crowded House
from The Recurring Dream collection
As I lay in bed last night, unable to sleep, one of those wee hours, substance-fueled (just caffeine, mind you) realizations hit me. It felt like a blow to the solar plexus, it knocked the wind out of me. I realized, bluntly, that I miss my old life. That life eight or so years ago, the years before the aggregate add-ons of marriage, kids, and general gravity had set in like barnacles.
I miss being single. I long for the driftless, purposeless, aimless ambling I used to be able to do. I did all that very well.
Eight years ago, I was living on my own, I had a job I was obsessed with and was very good at. I had a rowdy, amorphous set of friends that did nothing to keep me away from all sorts of mischief. I could go out with whomever I wanted, could stay up all hours, or not come home at all. For months. Each year I would go off on a two-week vacation, away from it all, without answering to anyone. Or not caring who asked. I plunged my face into warm seawater and did not come up, it seemed, for days. I lazed about in the sun and read trash ’til my brains were fried. I had no tan lines.
I drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney. I shaped clay with my hands. I wove baskets. I spent the better part of two weeks in a small town shouting out crisp directions to grown men with the aid of a megaphone. I helped maneuver a ten-wheeler truck out a shipyard in the midst of a union strike.
I turned my back to a boy, remorselessly. I wrote long, intimately unfolding letters, shamelessly. I said yes, often unexpectedly and even before being asked. I may have said no inappropriately, but I did not regret it. I have slept under the open sky, cold and alone, but not unhappy.
I was brash, sharp-witted, righteously indignant, tough as nails, quick to hate, but just as quick to love. I could hike over mountains, swim naked in the moonlight, wrap my slim legs around a man’s hips, absolutely. I could look God in the eye and grin.
I was the first to leave, sometimes the least to care. I could slam a car door and step out onto traffic, magnificently angry, and undeniably right.
I was fierce, I could flirt unmercifully and unequivocally, I was fearless. Yes, I was all that and shades more, eight years ago. And I miss the girl that I once was.
Last night, the past crept into my bed in a cold hush, murmuring softly like a spurned lover, still hopeful.
This is in the life that I have now, I realize that and I own up to it. Certainly, I’m not knocking motherhood and the brief attempt at marriage. Or even the job that’s had me (dis)placed just so. It’s a life that, for the most part, I deliberately set out to define. I realize that it’s not ideal, but then neither is it undesired.
I just miss being someone else, is all.