It hit especially hard this morning.
It’s been a a good long while since it has happened. The weight of the past crushing me while I sat in my car waiting for the light to change to green. All because I took a minute to examine my surroundings. The neighborhood hit with gentrification. All the old replaced with new.
The burger place was now a bank. The corner pharmacy now empty, a For Lease sign clinging to the storefront, dusty and tattered. I knew this area once. Long ago, another life, a homeless teen sharing a basket of fries with the other delinquents. Lifting bags of chips and hygiene products from across the street.
I drove past the alley I slept in.
Before I learned that my body was a commodity that could be exchanged for a night out of the cold.
All the independent coffee shops with the bottomless cups keeping me/us warm during the long days…gone.
I felt my eyes welling.
I tried to shake the shadows off.
I kept driving. Taking deep breaths. Fighting against the rising tide of panicked sadness. And then I saw the greasy spoon I took my first child to when he was still in diapers. Yet another version of myself that I couldn’t bear to be reminded of. A young mother who knew nothing of receiving unconditional love but poured herself into loving a child she could barely care for and knowing it. Letting him reside with his father because she didn’t have her shit together enough to provide for him the way he deserved.
Drinking until the guilt faded into the next sick hungover morning.
The guilt turning into feelings of being unworthy.
Being unworthy turning to multiple attempts of suicide.
I always failed.
Because at my core, I was a coward. I didn’t want to live. But I was afraid of dying.
The pall was enveloping me quick.
My cheeks were wet with tears. This city, which I had tried to run from before, was bombarding me with all the things I had tucked away so neatly. Or so I thought. My mistakes, failings, friendships, loves, heartbreaks – my heart was flooded, drowning. No use now. So I succumbed to the tide pulling me under.
Sobbing, I thought of you.
How we were going to “make new memories to replace the old”.
There is no such thing.
The old will always resurface. Intertwined, reminding of us of who we were. What we have been through. We can be grateful that we have progressed. We have transcended the previous models. I am Me, Model 273. Maybe. I don’t know, I’ve lost track of the many skins I’ve shed. I just know that I will continue to evolve and that soon, the places and time we shared together will eventually join the rest.
Another shadow following me until I stop moving.