Thursday, October 23, 2008

the same river twice

starbucks
I was scrolling though some pictures I took last spring. And though I know exactly where I was when I took this shot (Starbucks, avenue de l'Opéra) and exactly what I was thinking (what kind of idiot goes all the way to Paris only to end up at Starbucks?), it’s impossible to remember if I was happy or just pretending to be.

It’s like when, some afternoons, I take the long way home, under the brick arches and across the campus. I watch the students, searching for my 19-year-old self, the girl with the spiky hair and the blue fingernails and the narrowed eyes. She’s counting out quarters to buy cookies at the science center, a ink stamp from a nightclub on the back of her hand. She’s walking in the rain, head down, umbrella-less, wearing sneakers and a short skirt, late for Ec. 10. Sometimes I see her on the other side of the quad, disappearing behind a door into one of the dorms. She’s thinking about laundry and Latin declensions and shards of broken glass. And if I can’t quite tell what she’s looking for, I’m pretty sure it isn’t me.

17 comments:

Tash said...

If someone had pointed me out -- now, late 30s -- across the quad when I was 19? I would've run in the other direction. Probably in front of a bus.

Tash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

I can't even begin to imagine what I pictured myself to be now when I was 19. It sure wasn't this. A shell of my former self. If I picture my 19 year old self, I see the happiness that once was there, daily.

Wordgirl said...

I was surprised to hear that you aren't a fan of fiction because when I read your posts I think of just how gifted a writer you are -- and for a long time I would have supposed you were a writer...

you are a writer -- but you know what I mean...


Pam

Aurelia said...

I love that purse. Damn, I feel a need to shop!

Elspeth said...

Oh, I do wonder, I wonder sometimes, what would I tell my younger self? See, at nineteen, I'd already lost a baby -- my daughter, born too soon. So at nineteen, she'd recognize the me that stands today.

I'd have to go back further than that ... and the only thing I've ever come up with is that I'd tell her: Carry your dreams like balloons, the better to let them go.

Furrow said...

Ah, nineteen: chubby, depressed, insecure, and sexually confused. Good times.

ms. G said...

This is why I can't even look at pictures of the younger me. Just too sad for me. If my younger self saw the future, she would have run screaming....

Ya Chun said...

Man, I was a hot, totally-career-oriented, never-gonna-get-married chica at 19...now I don't know what I am...an overweight stay-at-home housewife with no kids?

I'd tell the old me to live life more slowly and enjoy it, don't rush to get to eh future, because the future is not ensured; and I'd also tell her that if she wants to have kids to start earlier, because delivering a live baby at 39 weeks is not ensured either.

Bon said...

i'm always somehow surprised that i can't quite catch the ghost of the younger me(s) in places that used to be mine.

and if those mes had caught a glimpse of now? i don't know. i think i always had secretly low expectations...i think it would actually be okay.

k@lakly said...

I wonder which I 'd see first, the 19 year old me or the shadow my hair would cast that undoubtedly would precede me by about 10 minutes.
Ahhh the glory days of aqua net.

Magpie said...

Sometimes I don't know whether I was ever 19, or still 19.

Amelie said...

I'm not quite sure what to do with my 19 year old self, but instead I am fascinated that Starbucks looks the exact same everywhere.

zarqa said...

Wow, that's a pretty powerful thing to think about. I know for a fact my 19 year old self was a perpetually gawk-eyed, perpetually hungry, and perpetually wounded in some ineffable way, skinny, caffeinated ball of angst. She was incapable of seeing outside herself long enough to see me. Really, she had no idea.

painted maypole said...

do you ever wish to be that girl again? sometimes I long to back. sometimes I don't.

K @ ourboxofrain said...

The gradual passage of time leaves me entirely unsure whether I'm exactly the same person I was at 19 or completely different. My 19 year old self would probably cry if she found out what I do for a living, though. But my 31 year old self wants to at times too.

wheelsonthebus said...

My 19 year old self would cringe to see who I am. And I would cringe to see her...