I was walking along the main street of the town where I grew up. Everything is different and everything is the same. There are new shops and a place called Middle Fork–a quaint little restaurant owned by someone who used to babysit me. I walked in and called for her and she turned and peered through the window to the kitchen. Heather King! she said, and then she held up her left hand to show me her engagement ring. I’m getting married, she yelled. I know! My mom and dad told me!
My friends and I, we had dessert. A brownie with a hazelnut cookie dough frosting piled high on top.
All day I spent time with people I don’t get to see in Austin, Texas. We talked about everything and more and then I had a vulnerability hangover. Those are much better than a booze hangover, even though they hurt, too.
When I’m here I have a hard time taking in all the memories that flood me. I want to run from them because who has a life that isn’t both parts joy and regret? The regrets want to pile up and so when songs from the 80’s come on, and they pull me back to this or that, I have to turn the channel. I have already taken too much of it in and if songs add more, maybe it will all overflow and I won’t be able to stop crying.
It isn’t easy to explain especially because I don’t really even understand it. I don’t know if other people revisit themselves, from before. I don’t know if they linger, like standing on main street, looking in a shop window at how everything has changed but has stayed the same inside, while it also hasn’t.
It’s not about regretting the life you are in, but maybe it is, in some ways, and that hurts. I don’t want to trade the people, my family. But I would certainly give up this feeling in the pit of my stomach. It has been there for 21 years.
I don’t know a lot of people who are really good at being grownups. I’m certainly not one of them. I can only keep going, keep hoping, one step at a time.