Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Conversation with my 14 Year Old Self

As I creep through the bends in my mind I want to stop and chat about all of the proud places. The glamorous places I have been, the triumphant moments that have come my way. And I can see them. Can always see them. But I am not allowed to linger today.

No, I am propelled through the doors, down the hall treading dingy orange carpet underfoot. I can smell it before I realize where I have come. The odor of cigarettes mixes with bathroom disinfectant and there I am once again.

The high school bathroom.

I look around. It is empty. The mirror hangs annoyed over the large communal sink. Not even glass, but shined aluminum. I see myself. I am 30. And though the bathroom appears empty, I know I am in there. In one of those stalls on the end. And when I crouch down to see, there are those shoes that I used to wear. There are my feet shrinking back from the gaze of the one outside.

The girl in there, locked down tight and silently begging for me to leave, she is 14. She is me.

I stand outside the locked grey stall for quite some time. My comfort amidst silence, that has not changed. And that is what I begin with. That, dear child, to be quiet is not to be strange. To be quiet is to be one who hears, one blessed with sight. And to be one who listens and sees is one who can find all of those hidden treasures along the way and, more importantly, one who can find god.

Know this: you will find him. And, oh, he is so big and so good and so much closer than you would ever imagine. You will find him, and you will know him.

Because I know you doubt that.

I know that sitting there in that stall you wonder if anyone notices your absence. I know you question god and if he is really real because if so shouldn't he know how lonely you are and shouldn't he care about things like rejection and pain and crying yourself to sleep at night? And, dear one, those are all of the right questions. You don't know it yet, but that's one thing you are incredibly good at: asking the right questions. The hard questions.

You, the timid one in there, you are actually incredibly courageous.

Oh, little blonde one, you have no idea. You will grow no taller, but you will look mighty ones in the eye and never flinch. You will stand strong in hard fought battles. You will pick the right sides.

It makes me proud, seeing how far we have come. And grateful.

And all of those adventures you long to have, all of those places you long to see? You will do so many of them, and you will do them right. You will allow the things you see and the lessons you learn to soak deep and break your heart. And you will be a kinder person, a better person, because you will know that loving deeply is even worth it when you have to pick the damaged pieces of of your own heart off the ground, one at a time.

I know that the lunch hour is almost up and that you are watching the second hand on your watch so that you can be ready to exit your prison the instant the bell rings. But there is one more thing you need to know.

The life you are going to build for yourself, it is going to be a good one. I know how much you worry. I know you fear wasting precious time and think that you'll never be able to live up to your own incredibly high expectations. And the truth is that you're right. You are going to waste a lot of time. Your path will be anything but the straight and narrow you are aiming for. And your expectations? You will have to learn to bend. But, oh hear me now, the bends? That is where the life is.

Don't you worry about a thing, quiet one. You'll figure it out.

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