It’s a funny thing, nostalgia. Whether it’s rewatching Harriet the Spy, or finding your suede, sea-foam green converse shoes from when you were a kid (#style), certain things have the power of just bringing you back to moments in time and making them feel like just yesterday.
That happened today.
One of the things I have just been blown away with here recently, is how good people are. And how they rise to the occasion. People going out of their way to spend time with my mom, and help in anyway they can with her stroke recovery.
So this afternoon, my mom’s friend picked us up and gave us a tour of downtown. We walked, drove, and took the streetcar.
And this was a big deal. I haven’t really spent much time downtown since I left for college. As in…none at all. When I left, the city was really nothing to write home about. And you definitely didn’t want to find yourself alone on the streets at night.
But since then, this huge cultural renaissance happened, and now, downtown has turned into its own little Brooklyn-esq hotspot with eateries and shops that could compete with just about any city on the map. All it needs now is tall, skinny, bearded men in micro shorts.
But what was the most special for me, was driving past all of the old theaters where I spent my childhood years.
Seeing the stage doors where I would come in and out as a teeny little thing, carrying my weight in bouquets of flowers and teddy bears.
Or walking through the park across from the theater where my mom and I would go for the afternoon between shows just to get some time to “be a kid.”
It was this tidal wave of emotion and nostalgia that washed over me as I visited these places that truly shaped who I was growing up: the good, the bad and the challenging.
Coming home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that feeling of being back on my old stomping ground. I mean, from age 7 to about 15, I would spend months at a time performing at these big theater halls downtown. It gave me such joy. Such life. Such passion.
I think about that little girl, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t fill my heart with a little pang of sadness when I think, what happened?
What happened to give that passionate, spunky, confident little girl, the belief that she was anything less?
What crushed that spirit to make her believe that she wasn’t beautiful or enough?
Coming back to these “hallowed” spots of my youth today, as a whole, healthy young woman, it was as though I was reclaiming that little girl. That pip squeak who was singing her heart out on stage, loving life, loving herself and absolutely sucking the nectar out of life…I embraced that little girl today. Allowed those memories back into my heart. Allowed her back into my heart.
The thing about recovering from an eating disorder – or any traumatic event, I would assume – is that it’s easy to fall into the trap where you close yourself off to the past, because it hurts to remember. Because it’s dark. Because you mourn the loss of those precious years to anorexia or what have you.
But the danger in that, is by doing so, you lose the good memories too.
Shutting that “pre-anorexia” part of my childhood out, and not even revisiting the scene…sure, it may prevent some temporary discomfort of reliving those horrible memories, but what about the good ones that you wipe away with it?
For crying out loud, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, Caralyn!
Going to those places today, it was really good for me. Because the truth is, that was a huge part of who I am that I had just left behind. Aside from the lines on my acting resume, that part of my history had been written out completely.
But not any longer.
Along with the renaissance my city has experienced in these last several years, so to, today, in my heart.
That little girl was precious. And good. And had something to offer the world.
And gosh darn it, so do I.