Before You

Before you, I was selfish. Before you I was vain. I had a sincere lack of patience. I had only myself to look out for, just me to feed and clothe and bathe.

Before you, I was different. I knew little of real fear. I did not think to question the motives of every man who speaks to little girls. Did not entertain the what-ifs of others, constantly, while driving down the road.

Before you, colors held one tone only. I did not know that blue can beam a thousand different shades. Didn’t understand that no two sets of brown eyes look the same. I grossly under estimated how many ways there are to incorporate pink into a single outfit.

I didn’t waste my gas driving to find the end of rainbows. Or  to chase the last bit of sunlight at the end of a summer day. I had only twice danced in the rain. And if I’m honest, I had forgotten how to pray.

I didn’t know that hearts can grow past the point of breaking, that arms and thighs and stomachs are not the only things to bear the scars of too quickly changing.

I did not stoop low, nor did I reach very far above. My thoughts were of myself first, and last, sandwiching the mystery meat of what other people were thinking, about me, in between.

I didn’t realize how many questions would always go unanswered. Or how good and bad that can be.

Before you, each smile was a practice run.

Before you, my grandmother’s China was intact. Also, I had nice things.

My shoes and purse were where I had left them the previous evening. And never, not once, did I try to put on boots, only to press my toes into a wad of stringy gum, two legos, and a small stuffed pig. I did not know that exactly five Cheese-Its fit in the DVD player, but that six Cheese-Its is just asking for it to break.

Before you, I did not sing lullabies at night. Did not read books that are illustrated and rhyme. I did not cuddle even though I was exhausted, did not guide little hands to the bathroom in the middle of the night, through darkness.

Before you, I dreamt of hailing taxis in New York’s autumn rain. I imagined that I would be an actress, on Broadway’s grimy, yet exclusive and glittering stage. I craved a warm, supportive audience, to validate me in all my ways. I wanted busy and bustle and danger lurking in shadowed alley ways.

I wanted to be the sun, the moon, and stars to someone. Their reason for waking, and dreaming, and sleeping. I wanted to be The One, so badly I could taste it. Or maybe not taste it, but write about it, semi-poetically, at my favorite downtown café.

I used to imagine changing the face of the world, in ways big, and grand, and noteworthy. I did not know how quietly true heroics tip toe in, how they shed you of the flashy cape and clothe you instead in humility. Did not believe that love is the only real super power, or in its ability to change everything. I did not know for certain that kindness is the kryptonite of hate.

Before you, I did not know how to be a servant. Was not limber enough to reach past my insecurities and find the bits of courage hiding inside of me. I did not realize how protective I can and would need to be. I did not understand that my entire world could fit on my lap and in my arms. I never used to cry as summer ended and the first day of school started. Or, hypothetically, in a parking lot outside of summer camp drop off.

I owned far too many pairs of shoes. And slept through the night, regularly. Like, every night that I wanted to. I showered whenever I wanted, and did my hair and makeup daily. I never spent more than $50 for a weeks worth of groceries. I know, that sounds crazy.

Before you, I knew everything.

I did what I wanted, when I wanted, knew where to go, and who to blame. Life was mine for the taking.

I was unencumbered.

I was free. 

But then you came along, and saved me.