The other day I saw someone from my past. An error, a blink, a glitch if you will. Some former part of my life walking through, reminding me of who I used to be. I talk to people differently, depending on when I met them. Do you do that too? When I visit home I’m eighteen again, oversized hoodies and a small town attitude. When I’m traveling I’m feet up on the dashboard and toes out the window. When I’m with you I’m me, but then again, who am I?
There are two ways you can go about a breakup. The first is pretending that it wasn’t a big deal and try to befriend your new life while you hang on to your old one. This has always been a preferred method of mine. Trying to carry everything all at once and smiling through the inevitable tripping and stumbling of having too much. Then, the other way. You breakup and you accept that you can’t have that life anymore. So you say goodbye to people you care about but know you won’t see anymore. You change your routine because, somehow, it doesn’t fit you anymore. You burst into flames and you die a little and you’re reborn.
This time was strange for me because, a little bit, I felt like I didn’t become someone new. I felt like I became who I was already. I didn’t really pick up any new hobbies, or grow any new tastes in film or music. It was like I found a trunk of myself in the attic and pulled it out and there was me, old parts of me, parts I forgot were there.
You are parts of everyone you know, but you’re also chunks of every relationship you’ve had. The girl that broke your heart, the boy that left you standing, the one night stand, the really bad date. You’re who you were at 13 and 17 and 22 and everything in-between all at once. Always taking and leaving different parts as you grow, as you learn, as you evolve.
So I’m living this patchwork life, happy in the newness, strangely contented in the comfort of the old and familiar, and I see them. This person I haven’t seen in so long that I’d almost forgotten about them. It wasn’t anyone of particular consequence. I could hardly even say that I knew them that well. But I cared about them, anyways, because that’s what you do. You care about things, even if you don’t always show it right.
I have this theory that the universe lets your past seep back in slowly, bit by bit, person by person, never more than you can take on all at once. For the briefest moment as we walked past each other we looked up. A flicker of recognition as everything slowed. And then, we’d passed each other. The street noise backs up and the street musicians pound on their drums and I realize that I’ve moved on, and the world has moved on, but the parts of myself that I didn’t take with me are still there. They’re still living and breathing and existing somewhere without me.
There’s no way around the cruelness of it. The leaving, the letting go, the moving on. There’s no way around the acknowledgment that someone can choose willingly to live without you. Equally, it is impossible to understand the absurdity of how many more times you will make this decision, over and over again, as you become yourself.
Sometimes to move on you have to let go.
Written with regard to the question ”how do I move on?’