Ugh, Facebook does that thing now where it shows you pictures from previous years asking you if you want to share them (I do not). Today I woke up to one from eight years ago of me and my first serious boyfriend. I stared at it for a long time, noticing how thin and youthful my face was. I don’t necessarily look any happier then than I do now. That’s the thing about pictures; they aren’t a real representation of what things were like. I stared at the picture for probably ten minutes, feeling a real ache inside of me that I couldn’t quite shake off; it was a kind of growing anxiety. I stared at our young naive faces and thought about how he lingered on in my memory like a stain. Nobody else could notice his mark, unless I pointed it out, but I always know it’s there. No matter how hard I try to scrub it away, there it is. There he is.
I remember he asked me once what my biggest fear was. I smiled and told him I was afraid of the ocean, it’s deep caverns and unexplored abysses; I worried about what was lurking beneath its surface. He smiled and kissed my lips gently. I can’t remember now what his biggest fear was, probably something like failure or heights. I do remember how later that night I stood in the shower, thinking about him, tracing my soapy hands along the lines of my curves, imagining it was his hands instead. I suddenly felt a boiling panic rising inside of me, a sort of deep seated anxiety. I was really afraid of losing him, but more than that, I was afraid of not being happy. The ocean was a metaphor for me; I was afraid of what was lurking beneath my surface, an unhappiness and melancholy that had been there since childhood. I pushed the thought away then though, and smiled again. He was mine, nothing was going to change that.
I was wrong of course, and I think about that from time to time- how wrong I have been so many times, about so many different things. When I look back at my life even a year ago, it feels like the girl in those pictures isn’t even me. Her life was so different. There was so much hiding inside of her, waiting to make it to the surface. So much would fall apart and come together and then fall apart again in this year. And that’s the thing about it, no matter how much you think you know about yourself, like the ocean, there are always new strange things lurking in the deep. These things have been there all along, but have existed undiscovered. So how then, can we expect to know another person entirely when we don’t even fully know ourselves?