22.989

I come to this page

with turmeric-stained fingers

to reflect on my last 22.989 years,

remembering the stories they tell me

of myself. Like how I loved Coco the clown,

who came to my first birthday,

and my Aunt Lolly’s bird, who played with me

all day 

until he bit me.

As I reflect, I see

that each moment of my 22.989 years

made me who I am.

Now I write,

with my turmeric-stained fingers,

to remember why I am.

Why I loved Coco but feared 

clowns nonetheless; why one caged bird began

a 22.989-year indifference to birdkind.

Why it took me 

22.989 years 

to figure out who I am;

to understand that

love is something you give,

not take;

that bodies

are neither good nor bad,

they just are.

I look down

at my turmeric-stained fingers

knowing permanence is an illusion.

Still, I look back 

at all of my past selves feeling

sad for her, sad for time wasted

worried about her body

her mind

her hair,

caring too much

about the opinions of strangers

and adolescent boys,

pushing beautiful people ––

friends who made her feel good –– aside

for those who amplified her insecurities instead.

Just to find myself,

22.989 years later,

mourning the loss of those friendships, still.

So today I will cherish

my turmeric-stained fingers, appreciating them

as part of me for now, not forever.

In my 22.989 years

I’ve come to know change 

as the only constant.

You can hold yourself back,

resist the change,

growing dizzy and nauseous

around every turn.

Or

you can lean in

embrace the spinning

and rejoice as butterflies

dance around in your stomach

nervous

and excited

and ready for whatever

comes next.

Never holding on 

to the darkness of past selves.

Because when tomorrow comes, my darkness,

and my turmeric-stained fingers, too,

will be washed away by the light of the new day.

Me & Coco the clown

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