"Don't you wish you could do that again"? Asked one of my friends as we watched Big A demonstrating her remarkable gymnastic skills.
I paused before I responded.
What I really miss, what I would love to have back again, isn't necessarily the capability to do the splits or back-hand springs--don't get me wrong, I'd love to have that option physically again.
What I genuinely long for is the innocent unawareness that accompanied me in those days.
The fearlessness, the open-hearted attitude, the try-and-try again philosophy that accompanied me always, because I didn't know any better--that is what I really wish I could have back again.
I'm not sure when that disappeared; I'm sure gradually it chipped away during the years, probably beginning with my very first lesson in exclusion, most likely the first layer of that confidence stripped away one day at recess in the third grade when suddenly, I was outside of my circle of "friends" because of some transgression.
I can't remember the reason that everyone was ignoring me, but I do vividly recall swinging as high as I could on the swing and not jumping off, which was my usual mode of operation. I remember, clear as day, thinking that if I jumped and fell, that they would have further fuel to add to their fire of reasons not to like me.
So that day I brought myself to an awkward stop by using my feet to gradually slow down, leaving marks in the sand; impressions of my new-found insecurity, fresh and bare like the dirt that I brought to the surface with each drag of my foot.
And so I suppose, that since that day, I've been leaving those impressions everywhere that I go. No matter what I'm doing or how others might claim that they see me, I'm always that nervous girl looking for affirmation that I'm like-able and worthy.
I want to be unaware that sometimes if you fall, getting back up isn't that easy. Sometimes you break things and it takes time to heal. Sometimes things heal, but leave nasty scars that ache with the deepest sensations at the oddest times. Sometimes, you pretend not to be broken because explaining to one more person how you got injured in the first place is exhausting.
I want a shield of oblivion to cover me from the pain that accompanies knowing that someone doesn't like me, or some part of me.
I remember being shocked when described as arrogant or thinking that I was "too good" to talk to anyone. Still, to this very day, the reason that I avoid small talk or eye contact or put my head down when walking by is because I can't really imagine anything useful that I can offer anyone.
I'm always seeking affirmation, even from the people that I'm the closest to. "Are you mad at me?" "Did I do something to upset you?" "What's wrong?", constantly coming from my lips. Translation: "Do you still love me?"
I suppose that nostalgia begins for me that day on the swing; the first day that I realized that you could yearn for yesterday with such longing that it altered your very course of being; the first day that instead of flying, I timidly stepped.
Tying back to the question first posed to me, it isn't the capability of being able to flip on a beam that makes me wish for yesteryear, it's the knowledge that I could get up there in the first place, and the belief that everyone in the stands was there to cheer you on.