At 12, my body doesn’t always fit me quite right – expanding and arching, no longer fitting in spaces it once occupied – mother’s lap, my favorite summer shorts, the Thanksgiving children’s table. My shoulders are rounded, slumping toward a ribcage holding tightly to three-legged races. It betrays me as an outsider, a newcomer in a place I have lived all my life.
At 22, my body is a signature of curves and loops and raw ink; it is a calligraphy of primal faculties. It vibrates as a hastily tuned instrument, resonating and amplifying each blue note at the slightest trace. It carries me on stilts, with pyramidal shoulders.
At 32, my body doesn’t know me. We are poor acquaintances the morning after an evening of whiskey and wine, greeting at the bathroom mirror. Hello. Let’s go.
At 12, I worry if I have enough friends and become lonely when alone. I am preoccupied with opinions and potential – what I should, what I could. A murmuring vexation my mother will call at a moment when her daughter is a skin suit surrounded by smoke.
At 22, I worry if it gets too quiet, if I am having enough fun, if there is not constant kinetic energy. Empty spaces are filled with photographs, phone calls, rock songs on repeat. I fill bathtubs with boyfriends and confetti, trashcans with bottles. Today barely closes its eyes before tomorrow awakes, brighter, faster, louder. Hours glide effortlessly on my good-time abacus, and I become rich with distractions.
At 32, I worry if I have enough friends and become lonely in public places. I worry for the time she no longer calls.
At 12, my pace stumbles swiftly, indefinitely, holding tightly to cafeteria trays and loose change. Little things are big things since the big things do not happen yet. Everything and nothing is mine; the sun rises for me or in spite of me. I exist like Shrodinger’s cat, both immortal and expansive, and dying at the least provocation.
At 22, my pace is unmatched but heavy, oppressed by the weight of potential; time is my church and I am a worshipper of the glorification of busy. It is a pentameter – rhythmic, predictable, holding tightly to a cadence I claim as my own. Moving steadily onward as if I were on stage, as if the audience trailed my heels, I toe the line every time.
At 32, my pace is measured by the meandering missteps of yesterdays and lost causes: hallways are echoic, stairwells ache my knees and memories, but sidewalks are a reminder of the red dirt trails that stained my saddle shoes.
At 12, I am impressed by size, by color, by rebellion. The loudest makes the most and autonomy has pink hair.
At 22, I am impressed by ego masquerading as intelligence – sickled tongues against fields of listeners. I am wetted by poetry, broad vernacular and thickly framed glasses. I find myself melting into smooth descriptions, plucking seeds from my teeth left behind by flowery words, letting sycophantic stalks take root. I find myself lying along leaves of grass, enveloped with an impossible vision. I find myself lying. I find myself.
At 32, I am impressed, simply, wholefully. Woefully. Impressed by arrangements of atoms, by the collective conscious of humankind, by nuances of light and shadow. Impressed with the glistening of tears beneath lampposts at dusk, unconcerned with hour, unconcerned with pursuit of happiness. Just sitting there, I find myself less scared to be sad, less scared to be simple. I find myself.