I wasn’t sure what to write tonight, so I asked the bot in my Discord server for a prompt and got the following: “As the elevator door is about to close, you lock eyes with someone on the other side – someone from the past.” Somehow this resulted in a weirdly introspective piece, looking back and forward at the same time. Who I was, and who I hope I’m halfway to being.
I hear the ding of elevator and hurry my steps toward it, but the pram I’m pushing catches on the flopped-over edge of the large mat the sprawls across the foyer. I get there just as the doors slide shut, and before they close with a ‘tink’ I catch her eye.
I know her at once, know her better than anyone else ever could. I know her slouch, the plain silver earrings, the glasses whose frames have barely altered since she was ten, the doodled-on notebook she clutches. I know the hair that’s at once too short and too long, the unsure attempts at eyeliner, the strap around her neck that carries the MP3-player that keeps her safe even as the earbuds keep falling out. The old denim jacket would be a mantel over my shoulders now, if I still had it, but on her it’s a shield, a wall around her anxieties. Underneath a crop top that she can’t make her mind up whether she has any business wearing, buttoning her jacket up and down all day as her mood shifts. I know how adolescence cages her, smaller even than the elevator.
Her eyes dart over me as if I were a stranger, taking in my details with curious longing. They dance over the my laugh-lines, the crow’s feet half-hidden behind bright teal frames, the chain in my ear from lobe to cuff, the dangler that hangs beneath it. Dipping to the flats with the bright purple laces, then rising to brush over the 2 mm buzz that stretches over one side of my head and the bi pride zebra stripes that cascade down the other side. They trail the ink that snakes down my arm and spills into the overstuffed notebook that I wield like a sword in my right hand, trace the bangle around my left as it rests on the pram handle, the marbling that tips my fingers.
Around our necks hangs a simple silver pendant – just one thing in common, just a million things in common.
If I told her who I was she wouldn’t believe me, but that’s all right.
The doors close. She’s going up.
When I was about 18, I wrote a poem to my childhood self – a tribute to all the things we’d done together, the memories of mostly good times and some bad. This piece, too, is written with a loving eye to the past but I wouldn’t call it a tribute. It’s more of a hug, and a hope. I guess the new year is making me think about a lot of things.
Happy weekend, everybody.