This is actually a combination of two unfinished pieces that I thought worked well together. So many half-finished pieces "in process", I'm going to try to finish what I can this year!
When I think back to those days they seem golden, hazy and golden, like a fluffy white cloud surrounded by late afternoon sun rays. Even though I know they weren’t really, they were full of unnecessary worry and timidity and longing and soul searching (as well as fun and games and friendship and love and passion and many a bottle of wine). If I close my eyes I see myself back then: slim (even though I thought I wasn’t), scared (of everything), worried (I wasn’t good enough for anything), unsure about my looks (wishing I were prettier), happy (because I had wonderful friends), in love (I feel like I was always in love in my late teens and early 20’s), sad (because I only fell in love with the guys who were not in love with me), bored (because I had no idea what I was going to do with my life) and crazy (the number of stories I have regarding my group of friends and our nights out is phenomenal).
The amount of freedom we had in those days in incredible. Even more incredible is the fact that we didn’t even realize it. We had no real responsibilities apart from turning up to our classes at university and passing the year and making it to work on time (if we had jobs). For the first two years I lived at home, the last two shared an apartment in the city with my best friend at the time. We both worked part time and spent the rest of the time on “campus”, going to class, hanging out with our friends in our regular bars, and roaming the city at night drinking wine and causing all types of mayhem. Those days come with a soundtrack by The Cure, Mylene Farmer, Bob Dylan, Muse, Placebo, Marilyn Manson, Bauhaus, and mixed tapes, rolling down hills in the dark and many a long night discussing everything that we would like to change one day.
I love how easy it is to look at everything more clearly but coincidentally through rose-tinted glasses, gold-edged but slightly rusty, sepia-toned in the light of the afternoon. Strings of happiness, sometimes thinning out, sometimes broken, some areas rugged with knots, but pulled tight through the years. Lanes that span through the countryside and the hills, through the cities and over beaches and oceans, coming across dead ends and turning back to choose the other side of the fork in the road that had appeared a few miles or a few hundred miles earlier. Pulling those strings with every step, stopping to reinforce them or to tie two broken ends back together again. So is life, we just never know what a right turn may bring, and such is the beauty of it all.
It was half a lifetime ago, that 18 year old me. 18 years later and while so much has changed, I am still her, just a lot older, a lot less scared, more knowledgeable (I hope), more cynical and less trusting. Nowadays I stand up for myself without even thinking about it, not worrying what someone else is going to think if I open my mouth.
You know that thing you do when you are able to pretend that you are all sorted and together on the outside when your insides are melting in anguish? That won’t really go away. It just gets a little easier to let go sometimes and stop pretending that everything is OK. Nothing bad will happen the day that you drop everything and burst into tears in front of a bunch of strangers. We are all human and the only person you have to prove something to is to yourself. Remember that.
Don’t change anything; everything has its own way of working out just fine in the end. You are going to make some wonderful decisions and some really, really stupid ones. You are going to travel to places and meet people, fall in and out of love. You are going to smoke too many cigarettes and drink too many glasses of straight vodka (my head hurts even thinking about it). You are going to hurt some people and some people are going to hurt you. You are also going to make some people very, very happy, and others are going to make you happy too.
There are days when you will not want to leave your bed, but you do. It is worth it. All those mornings getting up at the crack of dawn after a few hours sleep. It is worth it. All those late nights, working, in bars, reading books, dancing in the streets, they are all worth it. All those journal entries, day after day of rambling thoughts, they are all worth it. All those words left unsaid, they are all worth it.
I promise you, you will fall in love again. Many times. You will get your heart broken again, quite a few times, and you will also break a few hearts yourself. It may take time, but when the real thing hits you, it will hit you with such power that you will fall over. Love isn’t always all happiness and birds of paradise, but once you have it you will never let go. Never lose hope. Just continue to do what you always do, when life gets tough, hug those you have close to you, look after them, pick up the pieces and continue on your path.
There will be forks in the road, and there will be times when you get lost and go round in circles. There will be times when you turn back in your footsteps, backwards towards the last fork so you can take another direction. Some things just won’t work out, no matter how hard you try, and other things will just have a knack of falling into place without any effort at all.
I can’t say “don’t do that” or “watch out for that” because everything that you go through is part of learning to be yourself and how to deal with whatever life throws at you. Just know that whatever happens, it will all work out in the end, even though there are times when everything seems worthless and wrong. I promise you, it will all be OK in the end. You will turn out OK. Well, I am still working on that part now, but I suppose that is a continuous work in progress, right? I am more than OK.
I suppose that one day these current days will feel so far away and I will look at them in the same way, remembering life in New York City, pregnant with my second child while cuddling and kissing my first. Every moment full of beauty and joy. May we all aim to live and love a life full of everything we aspire to, the simple and the complicated, because in the end it is all worth it.