Someplace Far Away and Long Ago

Posted: May 8, 2008 in creative nonfiction, Sarah Einstein, West Virginia, writing
Tags: , , ,

In the Drawing Room at Mallet -- 1985Sometimes when I think of my younger self, it is as if I am thinking of a person I knew long ago and have lost touch with.  An old friend, but not the kind one keeps.  The kind who fades into memory, whose path isn’t reported in emails or chatty phone calls.  The sort who sporadically sends a Christmas letter full of news about people you don’t know.  A husband you never met, children you did not know had been born to her. 

This self is nineteen, still wearing her grandfather’s old shirts, although he has been dead for seven years by the time this picture is taken.  His initials, ASP, are embroidered on the pocket.  This earned her the nickname Cleopatra in High School history class, but it is not a nickname that she could ever carry off, and so did not bring it with her. 

She is standing near the piano in the drawing room at Mallet–the men’s honor’s assembly–at the University of Alabama.  In the end, it will prove tragic for her to have made the choice to come to school here… a choice she made first because she had family there, and then later made again for boy, and still later than that, for a man.

I can barely remember her, and when I do, I blush for her brazenness and her selfishness.  I imagine that the others who remember her–at least, those who aren’t Jimmy, who has always been kind before all else, and Putt, who is the one enduring friend–think of her as a destructive force that blew through their lives for a moment or two and then went on, leaving only wreckage of one sort or another in her wake.

I do not like her, though I envy her the slim shoulders, the way her collar bones peak through her collar.  I can not envy her youth, which was difficult.  More for others, even, than for herself. 

I have no urge to look her up, to see how she is doing.  I do not think of her often.  When I am nostalgic for that time, she is not one of the people who comes to mind. 

Forty-two is not a glamorous age.  But I would not be nineteen again for all the world.

  1. She’s beautiful at nineteen and now at forty-two. At fifty-seven I’m finally beginning to understand the wisdom of Madeleine L’Engle: “The great thing about getting older ist hat you do’nt lose all the other ages you’ve been.” As I move forward with my memoir-in-progress, I’m embracing, forgiving, loving, healing all those ages. And trying not to throw any of them away! Hang in there!

  2. Kathy says:

    Maybe you are who you are because you were who you were. That fourth paragraph is so powerful. I read it three times. I think we can all identify with what you’ve put in words. Good essay!

  3. I remember you fondly just like this, or nearly so. You were not always destructive then; quite the opposite. Yes, who you are now holds who you were within, like an onion or a pearl, and… nostalgia is not always a sin. I remember you, and would not have it any other way.

  4. Hi sarah… just correcting my blog address here… so folks can find me. I added a “dot” between the “www” and the “penandpalette” part last time. (Which I really meant to add when I created the blog, and just now notice that it’s not there!) I’m so not the techy. Happy Mother’s Day!

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