I remember the first time I realized that I was me. That I was a real person. That I was separate from everyone else.
I was about 5 years old. I woke up in my bed with the sun shining just like every morning. I was coming downstairs to find my mom, just like every morning. When I got to the bottom of the stairs and started across the living room, I saw my shadow on the wall.
It hit me then. I was a person. You can’t have a shadow if you aren’t a person. I stopped. My shadow stopped. I moved. My shadowed moved. I looked at my hands. They moved, they opened, closed. They did everything I told them to do. I was a real person. All by myself. Totally enclosed and complete! I was somebody!
When I looked up from my hands the entire room looked different. The sun was brighter. It almost blinded me. It was very hot. I couldn’t remember feeling it so hot on my skin before. I could see a bajillion dusties floating around in it. I wondered why they never made me sneeze and if they could clog up my new lungs. That was how I felt. New.
I had just been made into a real person. I had just been made into me and turned on. I said my name to myself over and over. I danced in the living room, I danced in the dining room, I danced in the kitchen where my mom was at. I wondered if she knew that I was a person.
She didn’t seem to notice. I thought that maybe she was too busy to see it. I would just keep it a secret for now. I wanted it for myself for a while. I wanted to be me all to myself just for now. I would tell her I was me later. It might hurt her feelings to find out that I wasn’t her anymore. I didn’t want to hurt momma’s feelings. I was too happy right then.
I spent that whole day watching my feet walk, my hands make mud pies, my mouth chew, my hair fly in the wind, my eyes move in my head. I saw me running in other peoples’ windows. I felt the sidewalk hit my feet. I concentrated all day long on what it felt like to be me. It was pretty heady stuff, that being me all by myself.
And, I kinda liked the secret. I decided to keep it for a while longer. I giggled to myself for days. I watched everyone with my secret self eyes. No one else would know but me, because I was the only one who was me, now.
In the end, I’m not sure I ever did tell momma that I wasn’t her anymore. My daughter never told me that she wasn’t me anymore either. Maybe we all end up being kind enough not to tell our momma’s that.
The older I get, and the more I talk to my momma, I sometimes wonder if not being your momma is something that gets reversed as we age. Because, unbeknownst to any of us at the time, my mom, I, and my daughter all taught ourselves to tie our shoes with our left hand, you know, just in case we should ever need to know how to do that. (insert innocent “what????” face here)
Y’all all do that too, right?………….RIGHT????????