I didn’t expect to find her in the garage. Really I didn’t expect to find anything other than a bunch of boxes, some dead cockroaches, and a ton of outgrown baby paraphernalia.
But she was there, hiding in some boxes carefully stored at the top of a shelf. The girl I once was.
She was there in the college papers annotated with illegible teacher comments. She was there in the notes carefully taken in countless seminars and classes. She was there in the letters, oh the many letters, sent by her friends when she first left the country to do an overseas summer internship.
I spent all day Monday in the garage being assailed by memory after memory, photo after photo, keepsake after keepsake. Some of the stuff went into the trash (like my middle school biology binder, stark reminder that I once was an attentive student who took exemplary notes). Some of the stuff was carefully boxed up again to be preserved for posterity’s sake. Some of the stuff was put into a donation pile so someone else can get some use out of it.
Yesterday I ran into her again. A slightly older her. A slightly different her. This time she was lurking in the kid’s closet, hidden amongst all my size 6 professional clothes. The stuff I wore before I had kids.
I packed skirts, blouses, pants, capris, and vests into huge donation bags and the tears finally came.
I’m not that girl who was in the garage any more. She had big dreams of being a busy ad agency account executive. I’m not that girl who was in that closet. She had career hopes and aspirations liberally coated with baby lust.
I’m not even the girl who bought all that baby paraphernalia and carefully stored it away for her elusive third child.
All those girls feel so foreign. So different. I don’t see myself in them any more.
At the same time, I don’t really know who I am today.
Am I the girl who wants to be a best selling author? Am I the woman who wants to run a successful digital media agency? Am I a stay at home mom who just wants to focus on her family? Am I a mix of all of that and then some?
In one of the boxes I unearthed this weekend I found a binder of short stories. Some were in French, some in English. They were neither good or bad. They were nuggets of potential. More importantly they were proof that that girl I found in the garage was a writer. That maybe she wasn’t so alien to who I am today.
I’m not a young Parisian professional any more. I’m not even a young Californian professional. My hopes and dreams have had to shift and change as my life has ebbed and flowed. And while I’m not sure where I’m headed next, it’s good to remember that the woman I will be 10 years down the road probably won’t recognize herself in who I am today, but there will probably be some common thread that ties us together.