I’ve had some time over the past week to spend more time than usual with the woman who knows me best in this world – my daughter, Britt. She’s 19 years younger than I am, and has (obviously) known me that entire time. And where once she was my child, the years have forged us into the truest and most lasting of friends. She knows me – even and especially in the ways that I would rather not be known by the world: in my least charitable and most unattractive ways. And she fiercely and loyally loves me – even when she does not agree or understand.
Here’s the thing. The last several years have been ones of great, terrain-altering change for me. Like, the kind that makes even the satellite map of me look different from outer space. Losses, gains, grad school and graduation, new hometown, new name, new identity. Wonderful changes, horrible changes. If you’re reading this and have breathed the air on this planet for more than 20 years, you know the kind I mean.
I knew that I was feeling kind of — untethered. Like an earthquake had broken me free from the mainland. I knew I felt like I was drifting. But I didn’t realize until Britt was here how much I had lost. Like, I had forgotten who I was, what I did and how I did things.
Here’s the thing. Look at her. She looks like me. And if you saw us both together, you would have to laugh at how much she sounds like me, and has mannerisms like me. So when I saw her in my kitchen, as I sat, like a lump, watching her, it was like watching a younger version of myself – then – doing what I used to do. Poking around in the cupboards, coming up with some brilliant idea to cook something or create something. Doing. Reading. Thinking thoughts. Connecting. Laughing. Playing. Making plans.
I haven’t done any of that in longer than you would believe. Haven’t planned meals or made them with any consistency. Haven’t read anything besides a research paper. Haven’t thought anything or discussed anything deeper than what so-and-so posted on Facebook. For longer than I am comfortable admitting to you, unless I was working, I have just, well, sat.
She makes me remember who I am, and what I care about. She makes thoughts I used to think stir and stretch in the recesses of my brain that have been cordoned off for years. Her presence made me drag out the books of crochet patterns that I hadn’t looked at in years. It made me find the DVDs that had been shuffled and moved over the years from place to dusty place. As we sat together talking, I would say to her, “Remember…?”
I feel like a long long bout of amnesia is lifting. I feel the springtime stirrings of new growth on old wood. I remember losses past, and how we survived them. I remember what it felt like before I felt so…damn…old.
A true friend is like a mirror. In her case, my friend is the person who has known me and loved me longer than anyone else on the planet.
Thank you, chica. You gave me back myself.