I lay awake the other night, just sitting there, thinking. It's something I do often. Usually, I will think about my to do list for the next day, bills that have to get paid, shopping to get done and what the hell are we doing for dinner? Crap, I forgot to pull something out!
I can lie awake all night long thinking of the weirdest, random stuff that doesn't need to be considered right then and there, but my brain always says otherwise. My brain pushes these issues. A. Lot.
But the other night, I heard a, "Psst!" from some deep, dark corner of my mind. Trying to ignore it was futile, so I looked inward. Standing there in some of the most ridiculous 80's attire, was my younger self.
"Remember me?" she said. Yeah, sadly I do, kid.
"What happened to you?" she asked. I told her she had to be more specific.
When I was a kid, growing up in the midwest, I was a chunky little brat. When I was 11, we moved to Arizona. We lived with my aunt for awhile, in this retirement/family mobile home park. This place was huge. The center area/main entrance was large, circular and housed a playground, basketball court, two pools (one for adults, one for kids and kids could only go into the adult pool on Saturday between certain times), shuffleboard courts, offices and public bathrooms. There was probably more, but I can't recall right now. All I know is that was also where the bus stop was located during the school year.
I lived at the far end of the park, right up against a mountain that we called Cat's Back. I think, but I'm not certain, that we were about two and a half miles from the bus stop. We moved there near the end of summer and getting a ride to the bus stop was out. I was on my own and walking that far took awhile, so my aunt's neighbor gave me a bike. It was not the coolest, or the newest, but it was in good condition and I kept it that way for the longest time. So I rode that bike to the bus stop and back, every day. Five miles a day. On weekends, I rode it down to the pool, would go swimming and ride home. By the time school started, my chunkiness was a thing of the past and I looked like a reedy twig.
Where my aunt's house was, was at the top of a pretty steep hill. I would zoom down that sucker in the morning, pushing the bike to its limit, trying to hit a top speed until I reached the bottom and then see how long I could coast. That part was full of washes, so there were lots of uphill and downhill areas. By the time I hit the main road leading into the rest of the park, it was a gentle slope downward to the bus stop and I could coast the entire way. Going home, was literally all uphill. I had to work for it. At first, by the time I got to that last hill, just before home, I'd only make it up so far before hopping off the bike and walking the rest of the way. Later, I kept pushing myself to see how far I could ride the bike up before getting off. Eventually, I'd ride that sucker up to the driveway and coast into the carport. Victory!!
I never gave up. I kept pushing and pushing.
The pool was a different story. I had to take a swimming test to be allowed to swim by myself, without an adult present. Because I wanted to swim. All. The. Time. But I didn't know how to swim. So I bugged everyone to come to the pool with me. I was allowed to go with friends and their parents, but they didn't go as often. But I went as often as I could and I pretty much taught myself how to swim. I'd watch people, I'd watch swimming on the Olympics. I even taught myself how to dive. I finally worked so hard, took the test and passed on the first try!
That mountain behind the house? Yeah, I climbed to the top of it one day, sat up there enjoying the view, went down the other side and walked home. By myself. I think I caught hell for that one, but I can't remember.
I did a lot of stuff on my own back then. I really didn't have anybody to hang out with. I had a few friends, but they had siblings and families to do stuff. My aunt volunteered places, my mom was in school, my brother was working and doing his own thing. I was pretty much a loner. I explored a lot and had some fun in the short time we were there. Then we moved into town and it was so different. My freedom pretty much went up in a puff of smoke. I still did stuff, but had to watch out for people, so I didn't do as much or anything like what I did at my aunt's house.
These were the things my younger self talked to me about that night. What happened? Why don't you push yourself anymore? Why do you give up? Why don't you explore like you used to?
You know what? I have no idea. Something to think about. If you were to have a conversation with your younger self, what do you think they'd ask?