There are moments when it really irks me to be compared with other versions of myself. Those wishful tricks of the mind that cloud the truth of who I am right now. Am I expected to remain seventeen forever? Or the wife of a man who is no longer alive? A student of history? A sailor? Those versions of myself belong to yesterday. Today is where I want to live.
But maybe I’m guilty of the same offense. Do I not wish the class clown from elementary school to still be funny and happy in middle age? And how could my eyes have failed to see that the years had turned my dog into a frail old lady? Or how about the way I tolerate obnoxious behavior from adults who, once upon a time, were cute kids in my world. Why do we so often choose the illusion of nostalgia over the reality of now? Who knows, maybe remembering “the good old days” prevents us from contemplating other, more unpleasant future events.
I wonder if it’s even possible to shed the past. Perhaps who we are can’t properly be defined, ever. Who, precisely, is the “I” in “I am happy” or “I want chocolate”? All of us are changing, evolving beings, with many different aspects of ourselves packaged up inside often deceptive exteriors. I have been a daughter, granddaughter, stepdaughter, daughter-in-law, sister, stepsister, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, aunt, student, teacher, friend, enemy, lover, bride, widow — but all rolled up together they equal ME. Now. Today.