Sunday, July 1, 2012

once there was a girl

on I-85 around 3:30pm on a dry, hot, summer day, approaching midtown and saturday traffic from the north, on the way to sample the Sublime Donuts we've heard so much about, listening to a cd of young people singing hymns i remember from my own days of being a young person in Summer School of Truth some 15 years (oy!) ago and opening my mouth to sing along, finding the words float up out of memory as easily as dandelion seeds, i felt it: the ghost of a girl who i haven't known in a long time.

it was like bumping into a very old friend who you haven't seen in a long time and them smiling at you and saying something like "the price on these apples, huh?" and shaking their head as if they've seen you just yesterday and nothing's changed, except that maybe their hair is thicker and they haven't got any slight crinkles at the corners of their eyes and there's a certain something—a knowing—in their gaze that's missing. they're young, innocent. and yet, they still like you.

there in the passenger seat of a silver nissan altima, as i let the 100 degree atlanta air scorch my face and warbled to the dear loverboy beside me who i never knew back then, i look at her in the side mirror and say: hello. with some surprise because i haven't seen her in a long time, and i'm shocked actually that i remember her at all.

i do remember.

i remember that she was happy. she liked singing loudly in the car back then, too. but not loudly in a goofy way, just loudly for the pleasure of singing. she liked soccer, but not practicing, which was kind of how she felt about most pastimes. she liked papa john's pizza but not as much as pizza hut stuffed crust. and she thought apple pie was best eaten cold for breakfast on one's birthday.

and i realize that we still have some things in common. i still love reading more than almost anything else. furry babies (animals that is) still make me drool and also make me feel like my heart might break at the sight of them. i still love the piano and i still can't play it. i still dream of having bunches of kiddos and living in europe and speaking french to them. i still love to scribble nonsense in notebooks and i still don't like anyone looking at them. autumn is still my favorite season and the airport is still one of my favorite places.

but there's so much that's changed. for a long time i haven't believed that girl still exists. i haven't believed i could ever be happy and carefree like that again. over these past ten years or so, i've felt so many things, but happiness wasn't among them. 

it was such a normal little saturday outing. we were making a rare trek over to home park for coffee at octane and donuts at sublime (actually i had been there that morning for a little 5k run. yeah, no biggie. wheeze, wheeze), and afterwards we wandered over to the humane society, because i can't ever be on howell mill road (where we met mr. wolf larson in march of 2010 and stars collided) without at least just looking at about a hundred and one doggies and kitties begging us with their eyes to take them home—especially one sad and pathetic little black lab with the saddest, most knowingest of eyes and shakiest of front legs who stole loverboy's sad-pathetic-things-ever-loving heart. thankfully, my heart, much more stalwart and impervious as it is, could see that she would probably be mopey and needy, and really, i think we've got more than enough needs going on as it is in this house, so we left empty-handed.

and then driving home, i looked down and saw that my legs were nonchalantly propped up on the seat, not clenched rigidly together as usual when mr. loverboy drives. and there was something quiet and small, but real and living, inside where once there had been a hole, a darkness.

and oh! just those few minutes in the car. it gave me such hope. hope that i'll once again come upon that girl from long ago who dreamed up imaginary pet wolves, who was most entranced in a wood full of fog at dusk, who believed that nyc was perennially covered in snow and that running for the sake of running was fun, that pen and paper were enough to keep a friendship going, that nothing was more romantic than the french language and also luke skywalker. the girl who first danced to the spice girls' wanna be my lover in her best friend's room in junior high while applying dark red lipstick. the girl who didn't understand pain or sadness or bitterness, not really.

i remembered that once there was a girl. and she gave me hope.



  1. Love. love. love. This is so, so beautiful. And so relatable in so many ways. It resonates raw honesty and yes, hope. Isn't it amazing how easily music stirs our recollection and begins to bring to life what in time seems to have been lost? Thank you for sharing. Love you B.

  2. This is so very poignant, B. So real and honest and so resonating with a little something I think many of us feel, when our present selves just seem to randomly collide with our past selves in a wistful way. I hope that you continue to have hope, that happiness sneaks up and greets you from behind and lands on your shoulder to stay, most of the time. I hope some of those things you dream of come to pass. I hope that if they don't, you'll be happy anyway.

  3. I've been thinking about/missing you and wondering if you were ok since you hadn't posted in a while.

    If it helps at all, I remember that girl too. And she was/is a beautiful soul...

  4. oh thank you! you guys are wonderful, really.

    adrianne and bethany,
    i looked through a bunch of old photo albums recently and found all kinds of AWESOME (eek) photos of us back in the day. i miss you guys too.

  5. love this post. so honest. so true. so relateable. perhaps happiness for the new, older, more lived through version of you will be completely different than the happiness and ease of the faintly familiar once upon a time girl? and maybe, in the end, when we're 90 and look back, this different happiness, the happiness with a hint of having lived, with the hint of sadness, bitterness even, will be so much richer. love you my dear B. and so happy you are blogging again.

  6. gracie, i think you're right. a very different happiness, but yes, i think-hope it will be something better. your encouragement is precious to

  7. <3 <3 <3. <3 this post, this feeling, that girl then and that girl now, who is, still, i know, you.

    also -- can i add this "she liked soccer, but not practicing, which was kind of how she felt about most pastimes." to my list of favorite quotes? no i mean really? can i put it on all my lists, cited R. Grace? because i love love love it,

  8. ha! i dont know if i want to be famous for that sentiment! but since i love the idea of being on your list of favorite quotes...;)