Can I hide in your shadow?

The same walk to the bus stop my sister and I have taken for years.

The same walk to the bus stop my sister and I have taken for years.

I have never, not one day in my life, thought of myself as growing up in your shadow. 

Sometimes, I even think I might have wanted to be, but I never was. 

Of course, you were always in front of me. Two years, two books, two grades, two steps on the road to the bus stop.

I’m sure that you could arrange this incoherent jumble of words into elegant sentences and stanzas.

Always in front but never blocking. Never blocking me from the sun. Never letting me waste away in your shadow, too shy to look for my own; the same way you would never let me spend too long laying on your bedroom floor in the summer. 

That road was home to our shadows. I tried so hard to be hidden in yours. I would jump, run, leap, across the road to land on your shadow, but you always stepped out of the way, laughing. 

It was a game for us. I wanted to follow in your footsteps, stand where you stood, be hidden by your shadow. 

I was always the shy one. 

My childhood was lost in “I’ll have the same thing, please,” and “can we split that,” because I didn’t want to mess up. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or pronounce the words incorrectly, and I was sure that you wouldn’t.

I put all the confidence I should’ve had in myself into you, but I don’t even know if you ever realized it.

My shadow has been growing lately. I don’t try to jump in yours anymore. 

The older we get, the harder it would be to fit inside the same one. Your shadow is too much of you for me to be a part of. Mine is too much of me to let go. 

I’m sure I’m not saying this right. 

I’m sure that you could arrange this incoherent jumble of words into elegant sentences and stanzas. 

Because that’s who you are, and that’s who I am, and that is how it will always be. 

I am a mess of thoughts and books and clothes on my bedroom floor, and you are pristine. You are organized and color-coded and articulate. 

I don’t want to hide in your shadow anymore. Even if you let me lay on your bedroom floor forever I don’t think I would, now. 

Because now, I’m scared. 

Now I’m scared that so much of my life has been spent trying to blend into other people’s shadows that I barely have any of my own left. 

I’m scared that one day, I’ll look behind me and I’ll be Peter Pan in Wendy’s room, searching through drawers and tearing open bedsheets searching for the pieces of myself I’ve lost. 

And so now, instead of hiding as much of myself in you as you would allow, I am watching my own shadow. 

Of course, there are still days when that longing comes back. When I want nothing more than to follow you through your life and become as much like the person I’ve looked up to my whole life as possible.

But the more years are added to my age, the longer my shadow grows. I become more and more into me, and the further away from your shadow, mine moves. 

No matter how much I wanted to be, I have never felt hidden in your shadow. You have never blocked me from the sun, and yet sometimes, I think that we’ll forever be those elementary school children, chasing each other to the bus stop. 

And there will always be some part of me longing to step back into the protection of your shadow.