I saw her in the window of the grocery store when I went to get fruit. The store was almost deserted. It was 6:43, I remember looking at my phone when I walked in.
The ghost in the window was wearing my pink knitted headband with the big flower. She was wearing my army green winter coat. She looked so familiar and sweet, like a song you’ve forgotten until you hear it again. And I realized that years ago, in London, when I went on solo trips to get the groceries, I wore the same pink headband, and the same green coat. I had the same rosy cheeks, and the same lost expression.
At first it was nice to see her. Then it wasn’t, and I had to cry. She was 24 and utterly beaten down, and I am 27 and not far from it. There is a thread connecting her and I, and I suddenly could not understand how I had gotten from there to here with the same headband, the same coat, the same face, the same fears. We haven’t grown or changed as much as we’d hoped. We haven’t outrun the black dogs. I cried like Charlie Brown would cry if he looked back on the last three years of his life and realized that he’d always thought he would kick the football, and he never actually kicked the football. I don’t want to lose the people I love. I don’t want to drive them away because I’m not strong enough and the me they see is just a repetition of other mes who also cried and took walks to the grocery store in their pink headband.
While I walked home, I realized that there were tiny differences. The flower on my headband is loose now, a stitch came unraveled. And there’s a hole in my coat below my collarbone, goes right through both layers of fabric. I don’t have my best friend nearby anymore, to hold tight during the storm.
Linus isn’t here and the zigzag on my yellow shirt is falling apart at the seams. I have to be stronger than I was, and being strong takes everything I have. I am afraid there is nothing more to me than this trying, and I am, in fact, the ghost, I am the echo, I am repeated emotion until no one wants to hear it anymore.