I often think about this girl I knew when I was in high school, I’ll call her Liz. Liz went to a different school then I did but we lived close to each other. She was a tiny dark haired crystal blued eyed beauty. She kept her hair short and in tight curls, she often wore henna tattoos and had lots of piercings. She was obsessed with Ani Difranco. She dragged me to so many shows I ended up becoming a fan myself. Liz was the most delicate person I had ever met in my life, she was so fragile and it shows in the way she moved and talked, the way her eyes would scatter the space around you while she talked. To say she was unique would be a put down to the originality of who she was. She was a quiet force but a strong one that moved me in ways I hated because she would force me out of my comfort. She was an artist, she was a healer, and she was my first love.
We fell out of touch years after school, like many do. I heard from a friend she married some guy and has two kids and works a 9-5 job. Knowing her, she would have said she settled. It breaks my heart when I think how much water it took to put her fire out. The years I spent with her, she spent running from her father only to end up with his archetype. The man she would marry broke down her spirit over time and turned her into something basic with nothing but a memory of who she wanted to be. I wonder from time to time why she went with him, why she married him. What was it about him that made her feel so safe, so willing to forgo her own dreams to jump on his ship and sail his course?
What makes people settle? When I look back at my life I can pick out many moments when I knew I was making bad choices and I still let them play out. I put myself in all kinds of situations, my attitude would sway but I never forgot who I was. For me it was always about the story. I knew those bad choices would give me a story to tell some day, and those stories have become timeless to me, they have defined me. I make choices based on those experiences. I’ve never felt that I would live in those terrible decisions because I never felt trapped in them. When the fun was over I’d get into my car and drive on to the next thing. Being alone never troubled me, being lonely was impossible.
We make choices based on our experience, environment, convenience and complacency. What drives each of us is as different as our backgrounds, and motivations are not singular. I’ll probably never get the chance to ask her what her motivations were. Back then I took it all so personal and I held a lot of anger towards her. I spent time with her before she got married, and I saw how much she changed. Looking into her eyes I saw the same girl I saw when we were in high school. A girl running around lost, she had grown, but only in body.
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