I have never been one to subscribe to the #tbt trend. Most items of note from my past that are truly “throwback” would probably involve several less inches in height and my at-the-time-on-trend Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. I’ll leave such pictures to my parents, whom post aplenty. But the other day, when discussing the merits of Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, I had a visceral flashback. Wait, I thought, I’ve had this conversation before. Could a woman be trusted with the highest office? Does she look like a President? Is she qualified? While I maintain everyone’s right to their own political opinion, I was gobsmacked (not being hyperbolic here) that EIGHT YEARS and a Secretary of State post later, the question of resume could still come into play.
Aside from pondering the regressions of women in politics, there was another “flashback” of sorts I had during this exchange. CosmoGirl! My first major-publisher freelance (emphasis on the free) gig. I was eighteen and did my own make-up, hair, script, and unfortunately for my calves the next few days, my own stunts.
The next chance I got, I was on the computer frantically Googling–I wasn’t yet sure if the existence of these captured moments of a youthful ideologue was a testament to my conscientious spirit, or an embarrassing remnant from a girl who thought the world was wonderful.
That internet search only resulted in broken links to a now defunct site, and my worries were forgotten. Until today. Until in a wine-fueled cleaning spree (a weird combination, I know), I found a sharpie-labeled CD. Holding this somewhat foreign piece of technology (none of the laptops in my household have a CD-rom drive), I felt like a girl who just found a VHS tape labeled “dance recital”…come to think of it, I have those too.
With a mix of curiosity and dread, I fired up the desktop and held my breath. And it wasn’t too bad. She looked, and sounded, like a sketch of who I am now. The main features were all there, but a little off. Her lines were smooth, rounded. She hadn’t become jagged with time, age, or disappointment. It was like looking at a kaleidoscope under water, distorted in a beautifully complex way. And I mourned that girl.
That girl believed in possibilities. She hadn’t yet experienced sexual harassment, or workplace misogyny. She truly invested in her community, hopeful for the possibilities of hard work and innovative compromise. She hadn’t been told no when the answer should have been yes. She had never heard that she couldn’t do something because, you know, women can’t do that.
Loss is a process. It’s difficult, and messy, and it hurts. Loss of self is heartbreaking. Not the that-relationship-didn’t-work-0ut heartbreak. Not an I-didn’t-get-the-job heartbreak. Loss of self stops you in tracks that you are no longer sure belong to you.
This video made me laugh, and tear up, and then laugh some more. Sometimes, you just need to see life through your eighteen-year-old eyes. It’s a beautiful view.