I want to go back.
I want to go back and find the little girl I once was, the one who would spend long hours on the swing, going higher and higher, then leaning back to watch the sky, because it felt like she was flying, like she was free. The little girl who loved to roll down the hill, dizzy with sensation, or whirl around and around till she fell over laughing. Who could be transported by the scent of that same grass freshly-cut, and the smell of bacon on Sunday mornings, and the smell of hot tar on a summer’s day when it had just been raining. The little girl who loved ballet, and who would put on a record and throw herself around the room, leaping and pirouetting, even though she wasn’t very good at it. The little girl who devoured adult encyclopaedias, because the kid ones were just too limited, and who first learnt to draw from copying the illustration on a book cover. The little girl who would stand in the wind and feel cold go over her skinny little body, and shiver with a kind of thrilling aliveness, so that she wanted to laugh and laugh, and just move in her body like it belonged to her.
I want to go back and find the teenager who would draw endlessly, read endlessly, but somehow never get around to doing her homework. Who would lie in bed at night and look out the window at the stars, and think about God and life and love and The Universe, and wonder who or what was Out There, and what it might be like to go up in a spaceship, and a thousand and one other things. Who would stim, sometimes, though she had no idea, yet, what she was doing, or even, yet, fully grasp that others didn’t pace or rock or jiggle their bodies like this. Who could make silly jokes and laugh till she just about cried, giving herself over to the laugh completely. And who still sometimes danced, when she could, if no-one looked, if no-one laughed. But mostly, she just dreamed, and drew, and wrote the occasional poem, and felt at odds with the world, without really knowing why. Who didn’t know herself yet, but managed to be that self anyway.
I want to go back.
I want to go back and find the young woman, who, when her child was in school, would wander the streets of Auckland, solitary and content, following an internal flow no-one else could understand. Who would drink in bright colours like they were her lifeblood and feel a thrill throughout her whole body when she found some old, neglected, quaint corner of city architecture. Who would climb Mount Eden and find a quiet spot away from all the tourists, lie down in the grass and watch the clouds go by. Who wrote a lot of fervid poems, because she was trying to grasp something, trying to understand the crazy world she found herself in. Who immersed herself in studying all manner of things, in pursuit of this same objective, following one special interest or another, for as long as it fascinated her. The young woman who would sometimes put on music and draw the curtains so no-one could see, then dance and dance, just because she felt like it, just because it made her feel free.
I want to go back and find the older woman, who, in recovery from an emotionally abusive relationship, immured herself in the countryside and wrote and painted and hardly spoke to anyone for days at a time. Who didn’t even have a TV, let alone a computer or the Internet. I want to feel how she felt, the rhythm of her days, the naturalness of how she moved from one thing to another, learning again how to hear the song within. Because she was freeing herself of a dark shadow that had blighted her life, and re-discovering her true feelings, her true needs, once again. And who still sometimes danced, late at night with the music up loud and the curtains closed, even though she had known for a long time that she was a lousy dancer.
I want more, even. I want to let her speak out, as she hardly ever allowed herself to, to reject those who would use and abuse her, to not get sucked in by other people’s games or agendas, to not give the manipulators and the time-wasters and the emotional leeches one minute of her time, or one ounce of her essence. I want to let her do and say all the things she once thought of doing and saying, but was too scared to, or didn’t think she had a right to, or was told she mustn’t, or got yelled at for saying or doing, so she stopped. I want her to walk away from anything and anyone that doesn’t nourish her, as she should have done all along, to have the courage to go her own way and choose her own path.
Because in spite of all the angst, anger, confusion, terror, anxiety, and raw aching sadness she felt, and a self-loathing deep as the ocean, in spite of all that she went through, she harboured within her a pearl beyond price.
So I want to go back.
But I don’t need to. Because she’s already here, inside me.
And I just have to let her dance.