I woke up one morning recently with “Somebody that I used to know” already stuck in my head. I got ready for work while humming a few bars. In between cake orders I would sing a few lines. I would think of various memes on the internet with Gotye’s face on it and chuckle. And then I started to think about all the somebodies that I used to know. And I realized there are a lot more of them than I’d thought. Myself included.
Sometimes I’ll talk about things that happened when I was a teenager or younger and it always feels like I’m talking about somebody else. I’m not sure if this is a common feeling. I used to be so haunted and now I can’t even remember what my ghosts look like. You’re going to have to bear with me here, I have a point and I’m trying to make it but lately when I try to tie my various selves together, I don’t get the paper doll chain that I’d like to have. I usually end up with a pretty jumbled mess. I can’t decide what this means. Maybe it means that I just no longer know the person that I used to be. I feel so far removed from incidents, encounters, and occurrences of the past that most of the time I wonder if they ever really happened or if it was all a dream.
I remember a girl secretly holding hands with a boy in the back of a van. I remember a kiss that changed everything. It was late, in the girls living room, I’m pretty sure she was wearing pajamas. I remember a girl being secretly in love with a boy. I remember a girl being afraid to sleep in her own home. I remember a girl who stood in front of her mother to protect her from her stepfather. But I don’t remember being this girl. And it’s so strange. Some days this girl found it hard to even get out of bed for fear of what the day could bring. Some days that girl would go home from school early because she just couldn’t. On at least one occasion, the girl didn’t go to her after-school job because for whatever reason she just couldn’t stop crying. I remember a girl having a full blown panic attack while in the company of her friends. But I don’t remember being this girl. This girl? this frail pigeon of a person? She’s somebody that I used to know.
I don’t think about her very much anymore. She’s fading into nothing but words, photos, and memories. I’m sure I should be scared to lose her. She’s as much a part of me as anything else. But oh, how she reminds me of all that I wish I could forget. I look at her pictures, I remember her thoughts, I read her words, and I find it hard to believe that they were all once my own. I keep certain artifacts around for the sake of posterity. The Livejournal account, for one. I went back some time ago and read the remaining entries. So many had been deleted for various reasons. I realized it then, that I didn’t know the person who had written these words anymore. I felt such a disconnect, because I remember feeling the things I was writing about at the time, but I still couldn’t make a linear path.
I’m slowly realizing that I can’t keep trying to reopen closed chapters of my life. These chapters are centered around people who were once so important but are now strangers to me. The boy I held hands with in the van. The other boy that kissed me when I was in my pajamas. The man that kept me awake and the same man I protected my mother from. High school. Anxiety. Pain. Tears. I might still talk about these things, these people, these chapters, but I’m not that girl anymore. That girl is someone I used to know.
This entry has been surprisingly hard to write. I’ve been tossing around the general idea of it for a couple of weeks, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to translate into comprehensive text. I guess sometimes it’s hard to put your ghosts to rest. And I suppose not everything has changed.
But I look at my life now, and everything is so vivid. So clear. So certain. I know which direction I’m going. I look toward the future and I know that it exists. I don’t dwell on the small things anymore. I know what it means to be happy. I’m not going through the motions. I’m the perfect counter to the girl I used to know. In fact, I now often forget that the girl and I are the very same person. She lives in the back of my mind, and in the small chambers of my heart. And I’m sure that who I am now and who I was then will meet in the chambers of the heart of the person I have yet to become.