We are watching our parents age. Haven’t they always been the same age? So why are they deteriorating before our eyes now? Why do phone calls include doctor results and stories from forever ago? Of regret? Of routine?
When did I become the mom and for the love of god please tell the children their real mother is coming home soon.
Who owns this house? The big one with the barn and the garden overgrown with weeds and the busted old chicken coupe? Not us, not me, no way.
I’ve been listening to stories through music. They’re called lyrics. Maybe you pay attention to them or maybe, like most people I talk to, you just hum along and think, “what a lovely tune.”
While I will not claim to be magically artistic, there’s a huge chunk of my left brain that gets a little melancholy for the arts; music, poetry, a really good travel book. So when a tune catches my ear, the first thing I do is look up the lyrics. (In the old days we used to look on the tape covers. ON PAPER. Or in the really old days, when yours truly was coming of age, we looked on the back of the VINYL covers. Dear god but we did.)
This nice little diddy is as depressing as an Indy Documentary. I love the tune but oh, did it spark some reflection from somewhere deep within.
I’m reminded of seasons; of change, of constant shifting. I was 12 the first time I asked my mother about letting my childhood best friend go. “Friends are always flowing in and out of your life, hon.” I didn’t like it. Not one bit. And without sounding too Dr. Seusian, I did sit down and write a poem in my journal.
I’ve been melancholy for a very long time.
I’m reminded that I am not the person I was when I was 12, although there are pieces of her inside. She is more like the foundation buried under all these other years of wear and wisdom. But I am also reminded that we can get lost to ourselves. I remember an old boss, years ago, talking about his divorce. “We just lived our lives on this road and one day we turned around and said, ‘Who are you?’” I was 25 and a young professional at the time I heard this. Eleven years can be a long trek and suddenly I woke up and looked in the mirror one day and asked, “Who are you?”
My person will morph over time like those friends my Mom said would float in and out of life. I will be a version of myself, a friend, and then another and another. Over time I will be a variety of people; the business woman, the mother, the self-assured granny, the meek and uncertain college girl, the housewife, the feminist.
We all lose ourselves to time. “Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in.” - Thoreau.
In some ways I am both parts, she who is scared and lost and he who is standing by her side. I am both reaching out for a hand and offering one to myself. Former versions of me are there and future versions are waiting patiently. I am the only one who can find my way.
“Though the truth may vary, this ship will carry our bodies safely to shore.” - Of Monsters and Men.