I Was, I Am, I Will Be

Noelle Natividad, Staff Writer

I met her in the middle, a place between my coffee runs and job promotions and her life of retirement and family, a little blip in my life nestled amidst an ocean of chaotic, funny exchanges with people.

She was magical. From her radiated beauty and grace because, unlike this version of me, she knew what it meant to live. When I appraised her for the first time, I knew, just like she did, that we were two parts of the same entity. She was my future and I was her past, and here we were, stuck in the middle.

This present was a gift. She was so like me, that was the first thing I realized. I was 17 and she was in her mid 60s, but there was already so much about me that was like her. Her hair was the same mass of dark strands, white interlacing as a symbol of her wisdom and experience. Her eyes were encased in weary wrinkled skin, but they were the same shade of brown. They held the same life and for that I was glad. Her lips did not say the same words and her mind did not think the same thoughts, so I could still behold her as a stranger.

We were different. I liked her strength, her fire, and her kindness. I liked that there were creases where her smile held immortal. When she came near me, I admired the way she held herself, not like she was falling apart at the seams, but like she was effortlessly created. Her chin was high and her shoulders broad, and I knew then that we had changed the world.

It didn’t matter to me when she said that it wasn’t going to happen like I was expecting, that life wasn’t going to fall into place like one piece of a Tetris game that ultimately lead to winning. It didn’t matter to me because she smiled and said that it was better, that she wouldn’t have changed anything. She told me that it didn’t matter where you got, but how you got there. Nobody cared what you were, but who.

We were everything we had wanted. Some aspects were unexpected growths of life, but others were toil and determination, most were sweat and tears. My future was there before, solid and strong and shining. She knew that life was good, that there was love, and that she was worth her own admiration. She was her own pillar of strength, and when I walked away I could feel the foundation. I was clay being molded from within.