I blog for my future self, I often say. Right now, I am the future self my younger self was writing for. Hello there, small Mel self. Have I grown up the way you thought we would?
My 20-year-old self writes me, a few months from college graduation. Fighting, exhausted, unable to stop -- and finally dropping the cover of enthusiasm that usually masked that tiredness.
I feel like curling up in my little superhero cape and going to sleep... When I thrash my way back up for air, possibilities will explode around me. And I know I’ll be so hungry for them... I need you to breathe, and scream at me, and live... I’ll never stop this, I’ll never fix this. I’ll always be tired. I’ll always be this close to exhaustion, pushing the limits of collapse... I need to learn how to take a hand to do more than steady myself for more running. I need to learn how to keep hold of a hand when I’m the one who needs the hanging-on; I need to learn how to take a hug, stay in a hug...
My 21-year-old self writes me, huddled in the bathroom, systematically detonating emotions within her ribcage, recognizing that these explosions fueled her running.
I’m trying to partition my life again – here are the things I’m supposed to do, to be “Good Girl” (that’s actually the translation of my Chinese name) during the day, and Mel during the night when everyone’s sleeping... The night is mine, so I take it, because it’s often all I’ve got... I want an unstable life in a lousy apartment working inane hours for a cause I’m passionate about... I want the person I’m supposed to be to be the same as the one I want to be... I want to stop feeling torn, want to stop having to steal my nights for being myself... I want to be one person and have everyone be okay with the person I end up being.
My 23-year-old self writes me, enthralled with the wideness of the universe. She believes that wandering the world alone in perpetual motion is the best she can hope for in a life where her freedom is non-negotiable -- and that tradeoff sounds pretty damn good to her, and she is drinking deep of all the joy she can.
Discovered Toronto’s network of underground tunnels and loped through them awhile, singing Beatles songs because I was the only one down there and liked the resonance of the space. You say you want a revolution / well you kno-oh-woah-oh / well we all wanna change the world... I think an accurate portrait of me might be this: a subway car, strange city, empty, late at night, with newspapers strewn around, sitting by a window, wearing a jacket several sizes too big, arms wrapped around a backpack balanced on my knees, flickering in and out of various threads of thought just about as fast as the underground tunnel lights whip by.
These voices are all still mine, and I am also more than them now; it is amazing how we grow through all our lives. Penelope's journey through time was one I used to scoff at; I don't think I can scoff at anybody's journey any more.
Being still is hard. Being quiet is hard. I tremble in suspension, and I breathe. Slowly. Someday, my future self will read this too.