I am a child
And I am grown
I am learned
And I am naive
I am organized
And I am frivolous
I am serious
And I am laughing
I am here
I am not
I am me.
Someone asked me, while I was on holidays, whether I was a different person at home.
She suggested that getting away, meeting new people, going to a new country allows you the possibility of reinventing yourself.
I suppose that’s true, If you’re so inclined. Which I’m not. I couldn’t reinvent myself if I tried. Travelling with your family – those who know you best, who know you intimately – also makes it hard, but even on my own I am still me.
I don’t know how to be anyone else.
Have I changed and morphed over the years? Sure. I’ve worked hard at self-improvement. But the heart of who I am remains the same.
The same person, not getting anywhere with her first line of questioning, asked instead what I was like when I was 22. The original me, before marriage and kids and real life had settled in.
22 was a while ago.
22 was just after my dad left.
22 was before I moved to Ireland for 5 years, alone.
22 was before I married, had my son, divorced, re-married.
22 was before I had a real job.
22 was before I had any real responsibilities.
I had barely tumbled out of a childhood which, at the time, I was sure had been horrible, painful and unfortunate. I was angry about all that but I was also out for a good time. Free at last.
I made plans on the fly.
I went out when the feeling struck.
I stayed out as late as I wanted.
I ate standing at the kitchen counter.
I was high on the possibility of disappearing for days and no one knowing I was gone, no one needing to know when I would be back. I did what I wanted and tried to pull my friends along with me but if they weren’t game, I continued on my path anyway. My path to reckless abandon – although in my case, it wasn’t all that reckless. Everything is relative I guess.
I didn’t have to worry about any one else depending on me, not the way a child does, and though I was dependable as a friend and a daughter (I hope), I steered my own course. I did my own thing.
I did enjoy the moments, though, after my dad left when my mom and I were both home together. That was a home I felt comfortable in. No angst, no looming anger. I wasn’t an angel – by far! – but any arguments we had were of the normal parenting variety.
At 22, I was a bit more relaxed about daily life than I am now and a bit more fiery deep down (or maybe it wasn’t so deep…). I had the flexibility to do what I wanted, when I wanted. But otherwise, I was still me.
I still got up on time, I handed in schoolwork on time, I was a responsible pet-owner (an iguana, in case you wondered).
I wrote, I read, I biked, I enjoyed nature, I cooked, I was honest to a fault and equally stubborn, I was energized by my friends and by learning, I enjoyed alone time. Nothing there has changed much; I am me whether I am on vacation, with my family, meeting a friend, or at work.
I remember, too, that at 22 I was searching for an identity, which I was sure I would find in Ireland. And I was right, I did. But I was surprised to find out that my identity wasn’t Irish.
Going to Ireland, I realized just how Canadian I was.
And I became a little more “me.”
Returning to Canada, having my own family, going through divorce, job moves and house moves, and re-marrying and re-building my life has either added on layers of “me” or else has exposed the person at the heart of who I really am.
I’m not sure which; maybe they’re both the same thing. Or maybe it doesn’t matter.
What I have learned is that I am more than all of the disparate things that have combined to make me “me.”
I am the sum of my parts.
Like a complex, interwoven, multicoloured tapestry.
I am a mixed up jumble of things that makes up an identity.
And I am that mix of me every day, all the time, in every situation.