I walk along the city streets…
And my memories escape from the corners of my mind…
Have you ever had the chance to retrace steps from your past without people from your present?
By this I mean, without your spouse or children or dog or siblings?
Perhaps to walk your alma mater?
To visit the place where you had your first job?
Visit the place where you had your first meltdown as a younger version of yourself?
I highly recommend it.
Recently I had the great fortune to spend some extended time in NYC.
After getting all my work done that was on my schedule, I found myself with ONE free afternoon and night.
No one to meet, no work to do and no schedule to keep.
So I took the subway to the station where I used to catch my train to go home to queens. The station looked worn and old and familiar.
I exited and found myself staring at the doors of Bloomingdales.
In my distant past, I felt like I did NOT belong in that store.
Only rich, well heeled people should go in there was my thinking.
Now mind you, I have been back to shop many times, but THIS time I was walking in the shadow of my 21 year old self who was so very scared and believed in scarcity of everything. Scarcity of LOVE, scarcity of MONEY, scarcity of a decent JOB that would afford her a place of her own.
Nothing came easy to my 21 year old self, except studies. I could study with the best of them.
I held on to that belief and I knew that if I just kept working my minimum wage job and taking 18 to 20 credits per semester that ONE day, I would land on my feet.
I had to hold that belief for dear life because it would have been so very easy to give up and just settle for an ordinary life. I so desperately did not want an ordinary life.
I felt that I wanted my life to mean something more than all the models that I had seen.
I would see co workers who made as little money as I did and they could live in NYC because they had parents who paid their rent.
I was so very jealous.
Why was life so hard for me?
So last week, as I walked in the shadow of that 21 year old, I reached back to almost 35 years ago and told my younger self Thankyou!
Thank you for never giving up.
Thank you for not succumbing to the fake promises of bright lights and fleeting loves.
I visited the place where I saw my first French movie and where I had felt so sophisticated because I had never seen a movie in a different language. This time I purchased a ticket as a well seasoned global citizen and settled into the familiar padded seats and I saw another French movie and smiled to myself. Catherine Deneuve is still so very beautiful, and I could tell from her face that lots of time has passed. She has aged well and so have I.
I accept my aged face so much more easily than I ever could accept my young face.
I no longer look for flaws, now I am so grateful for what looks back at me.
I hear tell of people who go to high school ten unions and they see their old flames and break up their families chasing the past. This is NOT what I am saying to do.
I am saying to go back to the school without any body. Just you and your younger shadow and tell that young teenager that he or she did a great job of getting you into adulthood.
I firmly believe that our present will be solidly grounded if we can make peace with our past and shed the shame that comes with painful memories.
Let us be proud of who we are a d prouder still that we have come a long way baby!