34 Going On 15

Introspection and life changes always seem to bring me back to her, 15 year old me. Maybe she is the most whole and true version of myself. God, how I miss her.

She was boldly yet quietly confident. Not in an exhausting, girl-power-inspirational quote way that actually wreaks of insecurity but in the way that she knew who she was, was she stood for and what she wouldn’t stand for. Sure, she was insecure in the new top or the zit that popped up on her chin but she was firmly grounded in the person that was her. She didn’t long for the popular crowd nor did she sneer at them. She was comfortable with her role in the high school hierarchy because she was comfortable with herself.

She was smart, but it didn’t define her. She didn’t have to stand out with exemplary grades or hide away in books to escape reality. Her interest and enjoyment of books and history was purely because it satisfied a thirst for knowledge. The stellar grades and honors classes were just the flowers on a solid evergreen plant within her. She was wasn’t only smart, she had wisdom that couldn’t be found in any book.

She was kind. Just because it was who she was, not because it was expected of her. Not because she cared to make people think well of her or feared criticism if she wasn’t. Not because she expected anything in return. She did small things for the outliers of her demographic to make them feel good. Even when she was rebuffed by friends for inviting that goon to the lunch table again.

She wrote. She wrote beautiful poems about the feelings a dog has when it encounters a dead bird. She wrote angsty diatribes about all the things her parents just didn’t understand. She wrote for the pure pleasure of it. She took the time to process her life on paper and capture her experience of the world in her own words. Words that never met another eye outside of that Mead folder and she was perfectly okay with that. She wrote for her.

She had posters on her wall of Oscar De La Hoya but she wasn’t carried away by a pretty face or a smoozy compliment. Her heart fluttered in silence for a chubby, awkward young man whose sharp wit made her laugh until her belly ached while he was also innately kind. She had not yet been undone by what love can do to you.

She was funny, geeky, fierce, profound and wise in a stage of life where others are trying on personalities and figuring out who they are; she knew. And she was proud of that person.

I wonder what happened to her.

She didn’t know sadness. She knew it existed, she was deeply moved by the drama of the world but didn’t yet know how it would touch her and twist her like a Bonsai tree. She didn’t know how much of her strength was drawn from another and without that person she withered little by little. She tried on those different personalities and each time she pruned a little more of herself away. She let herself be watered by the expectations and praises of others and grew towards a sun that was not her own.

Ah, but the roots. The roots still contain the 15 year old girl that was quietly confident, intelligent, kind without reason, and did things just for the pleasure of them. The one who let her emotions flow on a page and didn’t drown in them.

I may never be able to chip away the charred bark of sadness but I have some digging to do.

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One Response to 34 Going On 15

  1. Tom Breen says:

    Loved this…..

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