Almost every day I see the same gentleman (who is in his 80’s) walk very slowly down the sidewalk. Until he takes notice of me (or any other young woman around) he is supported by his daughter (who is in her 60’s). But as soon as he sees me he shoo’s her away, stands a little straighter and walks on his own trying to be proud and nonchalant. He always says hi to Jack and I and then once we’re passed and I’m out of sight, he returns to his daughter’s side. Sometimes I’ll hear her say as though she’s an embarrassed 16 year old, “Oh Dad, really” when he lets go.
In the video above, I was seventeen years old and now the video is seventeen years old. I can remember every detail of those days – the heat, the way the grass felt, the butterflies in my tummy over crushing, the weight of the trunk on our heads, the beach, her laughter, putting on lipstick for the first time and eating McDonald’s French Fries.
Recently I showed this video to my mum who giggled through the whole thing whilst saying over and over, “you haven’t changed. Listen to how you giggle, look at those movements and that cheek! So much the same!” When we went through her photos at the same age, I could say the same things about her.
And when we look at the seventeen year old girls we were, we don’t see any non-physical differences between the (almost) thirty-four year old woman I’ve become and the (almost) sixty-four year old woman she’s become. Despite there being all those years between us and our younger selves, there’s actually none at all. We have the same heart, the same mannerisms, the same ideals, the same sense of fun, the same of love of life. We’re just young girls who dream big, hope for the best but are just a little older and a little bit physically changed.
A man in his 90’s once said to me, “I’m just a 22 year old guy caught up in this old man’s body. I’m not so wise and put together as everyone assumes I am just because I’m old. I’m not stuffy or boring. I’m fun, alive with dreams, too and I still want to chase the girls. I don’t know how to be in this body. I just know how to be 22. And I miss it.”
I think of that every time I meet someone in that age range – that they’re just young people in an older body but who we are is who we are. This has given me happiness in the past little while for I thought I was getting further away from myself when, like Dorothy, I was there all along. I just, for awhile, became someone else I didn’t recognise. Luckily, I do now.