http://watermarkgallery.co.uk/product/kirkstall-abbey/ What is the best version of me? Who is the version I hold close? Why does this image cause my heart to race?
I realized parts of myself have been wept under layers of time and self preservation, but today I've committed to uncovering truths. Facing them and welcoming the possibilities. Defining myself shouldn't be difficult.
But, it is.
Is it only a dreamy illusion created by hope or a reality of who I hope to be?
I don't think of myself as a singular person. Are we capable of claiming a version of ourselves that smoothly spreads over all realms? Mom. Wife. Daughter. Friend. Writer. Even these titles have deeper, complex layers. Nothing is ever one dimensional. There are various sides of each, depending on the day. On what happened five minutes ago.
Or a year ago.
I'm in public, but I resist my discomfort and close my eyes.
Conjuring the “best” version of Jennifer isn't easy. All I see is darkness surrounding other's opinions and preconceived notions. I squirm in my chair. My mind rebels and pulls out all those bright, shiny images that interrupt productivity.
I peek and wave at the cute, curly headed toddler at the next table. Her bright blue eyes shine as she devours a cookie. I want a cookie.
My eyes close a little tighter this time.
I silence the woman placing her coffee order. Her voice fades away and I mentally lower the volume of the espresso machine as it grinds and steams out another caffeinated creation.
None of these are pertinent to the person I am trying to envision.
Behind the dark veil of closed eyes, the world is mine.
Emptiness closes in and I hear the echoes of thoughts. Are they my own? Curiosity flows through invisible webs of my conscious. I need to know.
A tumbleweed of memory slows and settles at my feet. A faint outline becomes sharper through the thorny mixture of time and youth. I see myself, as a young girl, carefully pushing along perforated edges of paper. I feel the determination and focus as she plays with the paper dolls for grandmother gave her. She is careful to not tear the tiny tabs. This younger version of myself sits within a calmness that adult-self finds foreign.
This one dimensional world was all that existed. My Grandmother's house. The thin, grey carpet beneath me. The purr of the anti-social cat as it slept on the window sill. There is nothing else in this mesh of memory.
No sides. No limits. No life outside this vision of paper dolls. No worries of a muffin top. Or varicose veins. Or grey hair. Just the one dimensional setting of youth and simplicity. Frustration only surfaces when the flimsy tabs tear. This irritation seems so simple. The solution easy.
The memory rolls on and it's gone. I yearn for its its return.
Now, I am alone - with the me that stands in an abyss wearing yoga pants and a comfy sweatshirt. I've become two dimensional. My hair piled on top of my head in a messy bun. (Not in a cute, twenty something messy bun – more like, she’s over 40 and doesn’t want to style her hair – messy bun.)
I'm sitting in front of my laptop. My two dimensions unfolding into three. My surroundings remain foggy as I open a Word file – the ONE I’ve been opening for the past 4 years. The ONE that contains the scenes I love and those I hate. Resisting the urge to reread past pages, I continue forward.
Where I physically sit isn’t relevant. Coffee Shop or my Cloffice? The kitchen table? The car? It doesn’t matter because my world is within my creation and the world I am building.
Words and inspiration are like feathers in a wind storm. I may allow them to linger for hours or I may watch helplessly, as they are carried off with the next powerful gust. Life is funny that way.
So, for right now, I'll take my time.
I will hold onto these ideas; my own feathers, so soft and comforting, tickling my palm. Their spines are fragile, yet strong; if they remain whole.
My eyes open and I see myself. That best version. And now I must describe the "best me" with one word... That took a few moments. Okay, several moments. It took scribbling words upon a blank page. It took wrapping all those shiny images, soft feathers and heavy, titles together. And being comfortable with all that messy beauty.
A simple word.
This should be easy.
Yet, none of the words I frantically scribbled fit.
Then, I caught a glimpse of my right wrist. I run my fingers over the outline. It is smooth and cool to my touch, but I feel the energy it creates within.
A heart composed with a small semi-colon. My own reminder of when my life got crazy and uncertain. This was my moment when I chose not to stop.
It was with me this whole time.
I am unstoppable.
This is the word I choose to claim. This is what I see within the best version of myself. It gathers all those layers of me - the Mother, The Wife, The Friend, The Writer - and holds them close until they overlap.
Some days may be crappy. And some days may be glorious.
And there will be the days that are partly cloudy and include all the glorious, crappiness that I can't avoid. Nor would I choose to, in the long run.
My revelation of being unstoppable may not make sense to anyone other than myself. AND that's okay.
I'm here in this moment and working on making myself comfortable with this word that's been staring me in the face for so long. This version scares me, yet I am told that this is okay and that a little fear is a good thing.