You’re one year and seven weeks old and you cannot take two steps without falling over, even though everyone else around you can. You can’t speak without your words coming out in starts and stops. You can’t make sense of where you are or who’s around you, even though you sense that in some way, that it’s supposed to make sense. You often fall asleep in one place and wake up somewhere different altogether. But you’re okay. You’re going to grow up. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re eight years old and you are starting to discover there’s a hierarchy, even on the playground. You are not at the top. You read a lot of books, you hand in your homework on time, you do everything your parents say to do but it doesn’t always translate ideally. You’re starting to scrutinize yourself. The way your body looks, the way your voice sounds, the way you cannot run as fast or make others laugh as loudly as the other kids around you. You don’t know how to grow up right. But you’re eight years old. There’s a world outside the playground, you just can’t see it yet. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re seventeen. You’ve been accepted to the college you wanted, but your boyfriend got in on the other coast. You don’t want to be a high school cliche. You don’t want to have to move on alone. You’re starting to realize, for the first time in your life, that you’ll have to make choices that are not win-win. You’re going to have your heart in two places at once. Life isn’t simple or linear or easy to predict the way it used to be. Your heart is breaking and everyone is buzzing excitedly about your future. You’re not ready for your future. But it’s going to come, and it’s going to be better than you could have imagined. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re twenty-two, and at your college graduation. You have a job prospect lined up and a sky-high list of ambitions and more privilege than a lot of your classmates. But you’re not sure you can live up to your big, huge plans and dreams. You’re not sure you can make it outside of this city that made you into the person you are, with the friends who have taken up the biggest, hugest place inside your heart for so many years. You’re not sure you even want to make it. You’re not sure that there’s anything better out there. You don’t know yet that there is, it’s just a very different ‘better.’ Just a ‘better’ that is sweet in all the ways your current ‘better’ is sour. Just a ‘better’ that might not be better at all, it’s just happiness in a different form. A form you can’t imagine yet, because you are twenty-two and scared. But you won’t be forever. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re twenty-six and falling behind in every way. You’re more alone than you knew you could be, you’re more lost than you ever thought possible. Your heart has invested in too many people who left. Your plans have been built around too many empires that fell. You’re twenty-six and sitting at your dining room table with a steaming cup of coffee and the silence you’ve forgotten how to fill. You don’t know if things get to come together for you. You don’t know if you’re going to become one of those people who can ever say they got their lives in order. You’re worried that you’re going to fade away into insignificance, but you won’t. Because you’re twenty-six and you’ve forgotten that being found first means getting lost. Which means you’re exactly where you ought to be. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re thirty-four and you’re supposed to know more by now. You’re supposed to understand how to make a relationship last, how to structure and provide for other people, how to keep yourself in check when all of the shit hits the fan, but you don’t know. You’re thirty-four years old and there are days where you still want to curl into your mother’s lap and hear her tell you it’ll all be alright. Except soon you’re going to be someone else’s mother, soon you’re going to be the one someone comes to for hope and for comfort, and you’re not sure that you’re up to the task. You’re not sure you will ever know enough. Except you will. Because you already know everything you need to. You just can’t see that yet. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re fifty and you’re not sure how the years have gone so fast. You’re worried that you’re stuck now – on the singular path that you’ve chosen, on the life that you built with young hands. You’re fifty and you’ve watched too many of the people you love already leave you, clutched too tightly to what you have left. You’re not sure if the future belongs to you at all anymore, or if it’s only left for others. For the children taking their first steps, for the eight-year-olds sizing themselves up on the playground. You’ve forgotten that you were once each of those people. That so many times felt like the end, just like now. But it wasn’t the end. It never is. Everything is going to be fine.
You’re eight-five and you cannot take two steps without falling over, even though everyone else around you can. You can’t speak without your words coming out in starts and stops. You can’t make sense of where you are or who’s around you, even though you sense that in some way, it’s supposed to make sense. You’re eight-five and on some days you are twenty-two years old, with your college diploma in your fingers and your hopes and dreams aligned. You’re eight-five and some days you are thirty-six years old watching your child take his first unsuspecting steps. You are eighty-five years old and you’re not entirely sure, most days, if your life is ending or beginning, but a part of you suspects that it’s both. A part of you knows that there has never been a true ending before this, and maybe there are no true endings after. You finally know that you are every version of yourself you’ve ever been. That there will still be versions you can’t see yet. Everything is going to be fine.