childhood friends know you like no one else. you don’t have to say shit like “i used to be…” because they already know. they remember. they were there. and you love them for that. sometimes, though, it’s like they inadvertently trap you in a past narrative. like you’re expected to behave a certain way and are constantly reminded that that is who you are. even though you remember it and feel it still somewhere inside, you know you’ve grown larger. and not because of all the burritos. when you’re your own best friend, it’s even stickier.
i’ve had a shy streak for as long as i can remember. i once had a sobbing jag at mcdonald’s because my mom tried to make me order my own second helping of fries; in high school, i would call my friend so she could call domino’s to order pizza for me (it’s a total coincidence that those are both food related anecdotes. really, i just ate a lot.). i met a girl once who told me that as soon she saw me she thought my face gave nothing away; that i was closed off. emotionally constipated, is how i chose to interpret her words. and it’s true. i’m not sure what i fear(ed) so much. i suppose that in entrusting pieces of myself to others, even in asking for a simple something or making prolonged eye contact, i give control away. like a ball of separate pieces of yarn, once people grab hold of ends and start pulling, i’m bound to unravel. and then everyone will stand around scrutinizing my innards with their judgy judgy eyes. because everyone’s always looking at me. all the time. it took/takes a lot for me to trust people enough to show myself. i can perform when needed, but sincerity requires a level of vulnerability that i was/am not always willing to risk. i’m primarily speaking about this in the past tense because, while it is still very much who i am, my shell covers a smaller part of me. i’ve outgrown it.
this is the first time i have ever traveled alone. well, not totally. i would say my first day of 3rd grade was kind of like traveling alone. new school in a new city, and i felt utterly by myself. it was the first time i consciously realized i was a separate being who had to interact with strangers. i was scared and i hated it. i suppose shipping myself off to college was another solo travel. my first week there, i’m pretty sure i was holed up underneath my dorm room bed like a frightened kitty cat. so when i set out from grandma’s to venture to santa marta alone, i had to remind myself i don’t like being underneath beds anymore and i probably wouldn’t really fit anyway. the problem is, i’m guaranteed safety and seclusion there; though also Lonely Sad Time. i remember it well.
i’ve now had two first days in santa marta. i came, had one; left, came back, and had another. both have been serendipitously perfect days of enjoyment, city exploration, flirting, pleasant conversation, and friend making. i got a humble room owned by an amazing local family, talked politics, learned local lore, stumbled upon like minded individuals, was inspired to put thoughts to paper, swam the ocean in my underthings, met a 6 year san franciscan ex-pat and told him how everything has changed there (my favorite sf activity), found a boy with smooching potential, and was generally my whimsical, charming best self. aside from missing my puppy dog and sweating like a sinner in church, i could not have asked for better beginnings to this plan half a year in the making. it’s not that i’m surprised by it; i know who i am now. yet, when i find myself alone in my room, i start hearing “once upon a time…” i guess it’s just hard to leave old friends behind.