Saturday, July 28, 2012
Fountains & Street Meters
Alexandria, Virginia reminds me of the me that never was. Regal fountains waiting for pedestrians, clean city streets lined with rows of meters and their fancy streetcars, people in serious clothes carrying brown bags with turkey, lettuce, hold the cheese sandwiches. I was supposed to be with this crowd. I was supposed to be these people.
At least that's what I had in store when I was in college. I had my future self so together I could even foresee the cast iron umbrella catcher in the corner of my cramped yet Ann Hathaway cozy studio apartment. Two. Geth, Er.
What the #%!@ happened?
How did I go from getting As in Political philosophy, Biology, and Shakespeare to hiding in my clammy minivan where I'm rapidly approaching heatstroke?
Children. I'd blame the children except they didn't ask to show up.
Husband. I could blame my husband but that won't help our marital malaise one iota.
Me. It's got to be me. Something went terribly wrong between Horticulture Labs and my own self confidence. Somewhere along the line, I believed the little nag inside my head that said I am not smart, confused, and really one big clustereff of cellular magpie.
But...there was promise after college. I took my indecisive self to graduate school to study disabilities of children who learn differently from the norm. I was going to grow up and help the children who were falling through the cracks of a homogenous system. I believed I could reach them because I was them. The student me felt smart, compassionate, and driven.
I graduated (with honors!) and the nag returned. Without my student's superhero cape, I was back to being less than, irrelevant, and tragically doubtful. The nag knew me well and helped me become small again. Invisible whenever possible. Blazing no particular path but instead breathing shallow so nobody would know I was here. So I wouldn't know I was here and could hide from myself until I sorted things out.
The streets of Alexandria remind me of the woman I never became. The me I left behind many years ago, the dreams I beheaded before they had chance to take root, the talents neglected from self loathing.
It's an awful thing to sit in this now steamed up minivan knowing what I know now.
That nag is fear. And I let fear win for too long.