She looks familiar, doesn’t she? There’s something about the dimples and the slightly awkward way the hair is lying. In fact, forget the hair, just the general awkward pose strikes a cord. It’s like that of a tourist having a photo taken next to something deemed important, but that no one can name. But of course, she was a tourist back then. Four years ago. So long ago. Just like a moment ago.
Yes, I definitely know that girl. I recognise the smile, the attempt at putting an outfit together that’s not quite right, and that look in the eyes behind the glasses, that hope that she’s doing it right. Whatever it is. She’s come a long way, that’s for sure.
Oh yes, she’s definitely come along way. Not just a few hundred miles of distance from one home to another. There have been other alterations too. The itchy, eczema-covered hands she arrived with – evidence of a life taken too seriously – have smoothed; where once there were the makings of an intricate dot-to-dot, there now sits painted nails and even skin. The outward signs of the troubles she left behind are long gone. Look inwards and you’ll find improvement too.
Other external changes are merely cosmetic: a hair cut or two, new glasses, a new coat – none of the things that really matter, except in so much as they represent a braver few steps, an attempt at finding that ever elusive self.
Four years. Four years since packing and unpacking a life into five boxes. Four years of newness and adventure, of finding a new home and missing an old one, and of striving and often failing to find a balance between home and away, the two blurring gradually. Four years of never quite learning a language and never quite mastering a culture. Four years of friendships and of goodbyes. Four years and lots of the new and some of the old. It’s shaped her, this passage of time, like no other era before.
Yes, I remember that girl, but I am more familiar with the person she is now: A new job, not unlike the old. A marriage, the reason for the move underwritten by love and law. An emerging confidence, new, so completely new that it’s still unsure, like a child just off training wheels. However, still the old worries, more of the same, but better. At least most of the time.
Who’s that girl? Have you seen her? She’s changed a little and adapted a lot. From many angles unrecognisable and from some angles exactly the same.