Sometimes I think about all of the things that happen to us in our lives, big things and little things. Wind whipping hair into our mouths as we walk to school one morning and people who just show up and change the whole world and skyscrapers and rivers and twisted ankles from cracks in the sidewalk we didn’t see. I think about how things would be different if that apple didn’t (allegedly) hit Newton’s head and if Jamie didn’t kiss me in the dark and if … we weren’t here.
How did we get here?
And I ask myself why we kept living. How did we manage to survive all those years of shouting into the void and scraping our knees looking for a light switch, only to discover the power was out? How did we persevere through paper cuts and sore muscles, friendships that faded with no warning and years that passed as if that’s just what years do.
We did keep living, didn’t we?
Things changed. We grew up. How funny how few words can contain so much of us, of our hearts. And everyone goes through it and everyone is always going through it, so we don’t talk about it.
We don’t talk about what’s happening to us.
It’s never the last time until 10 years have gone by and we’re drinking a beer with a close acquaintance and we remember that night we had a dance party with all of our friends outside the hockey rink on a Tuesday, or closed the 7th Harry Potter book and smiled, or asked our parents to help us soften butter in the microwave for m&m cookies, and it dons on us, like the chill that slowly sends goosebumps down your neck after the sun goes down, “That really was the last time.” Like you don’t realize you’re cold until you feel yourself shiver.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be who I was back then. I don’t know if I’ll ever be anyone else.
Sometimes, it hits me when I’m riding my bike in the middle of the street just past sunset. Or sitting on my front porch, thinking about everything and nothing simultaneously.
I think about all of the things we make happen in our lives, big things and little things. We make love and we make mistakes and we make art and we make boredom and terror and definitions that help us feel like we have something to hold onto.
Sometimes, it hits me like a brick wall I’ve been running at full speed since I was seven years old and suddenly I’m seven years old again. And I still don’t have all of the answers. And I feel a tug on my heartstrings to write something like this, and then I read it and laugh because I’m reminded that I’m not unique.
How extraordinary that this is universal! I think about how, evidently, I’m here. And evidently you’re here-there, somewhere in the world. And if we close our eyes hard enough, we can feel, just for a moment, as though we’re together in this.
We did keep living, didn’t we.