The Search for Herself

She is a wanderer, and she is trying to find herself.

She thinks it lies among the high topped mountains, the clear cold streams, and the sunflower meadows far far away.

And I wish I could tell her, that everywhere she goes, she leaves a little piece of her.

Herself is her body, and she need not look for it.

But there is freedom where eagles fly, and perfect skipping stones look slick and black underneath the water.

Yet if she is trying to find herself, she should start in her little old town.

With the fried chicken place with black booths, the dance studio that always smelled like paint and leather, the old bargain store with mismatched hangers and old toys, the old school that was a community center where she used to take piano lessons, the old playground with rusted metal slides and swings.

There she can find herself.

Her little six-year-old self wearing a pink tutu with a messy ponytail.

Her eleven-year-old self racing her friends down the slides.

Her nine-year-old self with fumbling fingers and black and white piano keys.

Her ten-year-old self scarfing down chicken fingers after soccer practice.

If she wants to find herself she should go to the lake house.

With paint peeling on the deck, the dock with dark brown stain, the waves softly lapping the shore, the view of the island across the way, the dusty canoe hanging near the rafters, the old single lightbulb illuminated the shed full of beach toys and floats, the mayflies that perch on the poles, the water snails that cling to bits of algae on the bottom.

There she can find herself.

Her twelve-year-old self canoeing with her older brother into a nearby cove.

Her six-year-old self with a pink float around her waist paddling around in the shallows.

Her nine-year-old self jumping off the end of the dock into the deep green water.

Her eight-year-old self clutching a fishing rod to her chest while reeling in her tiny catch.

Her ten-year-old self wading through rocky stones to find the hidden blackberry patch on the shore.

Her five-year-old self wearing a pair of pink sunglasses on a jetski.

But if she wants to try to find herself, in sights, smells and places, then she should go back to the soccer fields.

There she can find herself.

Her six-year-old self proudly wearing a tiny pair of black cleats with an orange jersey.

Her ten-year-old self bringing facepaint to wear on her team’s cheeks on game day.

Her eleven-year-old self being the only one of three girls on an entire boy team.

Her thirteen-year self finding the true meaning of teamwork through laughter and tears.

If she wants to try and find herself, then she should go to the mountains.

There she can find herself.

Her six-year-old self sitting in a green and pink camp chair.

Her eleven-year-old self wearing chacos to wade in an ice-cold stream.

Her seven-year-old self finding the biggest pinecone ever.

Her thirteen-year-old self bounding over rocks and logs in the middle of the trail.

Her nine-year-old self roasting marshmallows and waving away the smoke.

 

I wish she would stop searching because there are enough lost people in this world, and if she wants to find herself, she can.

She can go back to her old town, the lakehouse.

She can camp in the mountains, and wade in streams.

But if she really wants to find herself, she will find all the old photo albums she tucked away.

Because inside those pages, are the secret to who she is.

They hold the laughter, the tears, the friendship, the heartbreak.

They hold all the little pieces of her that were left in all the places she went to look for herself.

She didn’t need to look at all because her mind and body are herself.

 

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