The girl entering the train is wearing a pistachio green jacket. She takes it off seconds after sitting down. The heat is oppressive. She feels nauseous and “car sick” after minutes on the train. She carries a rucksack and a sad face. She doesn’t look as if she is about to cry, but happiness seems far away from her face. She finds a book, but it seems she is hiding behind it rather than reading.
I can’t hold a single thought, a single feeling. They are strewn around me. As I sit there, I find myself wishing I could get myself together and enjoy the life I am living. A young guy enters the train. He sits opposite me. His eyes are chocolate brown and warm. He smiles at me, a little shy. I look at him and I do my best to smile back at him, but I know my smile shows I am not feeling all that well on the inside. Our eyes meet again a little later and he smiles once more. I look away. All I can think of is how J would sweat to death if he was wearing the same kind of lycra shirt.
I hate going back to the town where I grew up. I don’t at all feel well in the town where I grew up. But it is where I am heading. I get off the train and the same feeling as always hits me. I am 16 again. I am afraid of running into the boy from Saturday – the boy who tried to get into my pants, but only got kisses. Only it didn’t happen Saturday – it happened 15 years ago, but I feel the same fear of running into him as I did then.
I have changed. I am still to some degree me, but I have changed. Being back makes me fear being confronted with the girl others wanted me to be, the girl I struggled to get away from.
I fear running into anything which will confront me with my time in this town. Not because I regret it, not because I did silly things, but because I am no longer the girl I was back then and no one have been able to see that. Episodes stick, nicknames stick, frenemies stick. As I get off the train I hear the ghostly voice of old acquaintances – “So what has the girl been up to this summer?” – Life sticks. And so does the memory of who you once were, of who people wanted you to be, no matter how far you travel.
I walk the roughly 200 metres from the train station to my optician’s. It is seconds away from raining. The air is heavy with that feeling of just about to thunder. I look at the people on the street. I look at the shops I once walked past every day. I shake my head at the hate, the disgust, the not feeling at home at all I am feeling towards this city. I would see the same people in the same kind of city completely different was it anywhere else. But here I have seen too much, been stuck here gasping for air too long.
While I wait at the optician’s, I catch a glimpse of a person, a girl, a young woman, in the mirror. It’s me. And I’m grown up and confident and I love the stories the face, the eyes and the smile are telling. It did once, but it’s been some time since the face, the eyes and the smile told stories in this town.