Look for her anywhere but here


Natalie Mix

This photo of my best friends symbolizes everything I want for my future

With no volition to call my own, no strength to change the tape, I am watching something else take control over my life, something I refuse to call me. I like to think that some higher power—Fate, Destiny, God—is calling the shots on this little project right now, but some warped version of my previous existence is rearing her ugly head.

My present doesn’t feel like my own right now, but the past and the future do, and I search through those chapters to find myself again, to pull her out of the debris. Something has to change, and I’m grasping for the answer anywhere but here.

I find her in the words she left behind—when she was beginning to break but couldn’t have fathomed what that really meant—in the pages she decorated with colorful ink, and the diary she had finally almost completely filled.

She practiced healthy patterns, used words to save herself and remind herself, documented her dreams. She wrote what she knew was true, even if it felt like falsehoods, that what hurt would pass, that the uncomfortability of change would be worth it, that she had so much to learn.

She wrote about guilt and longing, and they were all she felt for months, all that remains of what I once was.

On May 19, she sat on the porch and wrote about feeling discontent, about wanting more when what she had was too much. She wrote about the smell of spices from the kitchen and the sweet breeze that rippled across the yard, about the dark hue of rain on a day without any rain, about the soreness of her wrist, and the dampness of her feet like she’d been walking in the grass. She wrote about the birds in the trees and what she could see between the branches—the pink and purple and yellow clouds. And she didn’t feel like herself, but now she longs for that again.

On May 28, she wrote about overwhelming happiness, about friendship like you hear about in fiction, about the beginning of a summer that continues to save her life. Those days were marked by music turned all the way up, the windows down in her van, screaming the lyrics, getting lost, and learning to be present.

On June 25, at 6:14 am, she sat on the front lawn, shivering in the cold and basking in the elegance of watching night become day. With painted nails and her sweatshirt over her knees, she pondered if six am was always this beautiful, or just when she was awake to witness it. And she wrote about the evergreens that stood out against the soft orange haze and the tufts of blue, pink, and purple. She wrote about books, and prayers, and the glow of morning.

And she didn’t write again after that.

Summer shaped her, then ran away with her joy, and winter took advantage of me. She was handed a lackluster version of her soul, and she took it. I swallowed down the pain, and let it ruin me from the inside out. Now I forage for her in the future.

The future is Sunday mornings and roller skates. The future is looking back and knowing I am okay. The future is finding her again, and then letting her become something entirely new.

The future is summer. It’s learning to love knowledge and no longer fear the means of getting there. It’s dreams that I can wake up happy from. It’s love in any form they can give it to me in. It’s farmers markets, and new journals to fill, and days that I’m excited to live.

The future is anytime but now. And while I’m looking at it though a dirty window, I know I can find her again. The present may not be mine, but the future can be any time but now.