In one year everything in my life changed. In 2004 I was an optimistic dancer/singer/actress with an all-star swimmer boyfriend who went home every once in awhile to Rochester, NY and slept in the same room I spent my entire nineteen years in. By 2005 I was a hurt, embittered English major with plans to be a writer who ached when she saw swimmers and went “home” to a cold empty house an hour north of the city in a hard bed no one had ever slept in. I was changed. And I left a little piece of me in Rochester, dancing and singing and acting with the swimmer.
Every year since then I have had to face a decision. This year is no different. An invitation to a “reunion.” I stare at the RSVP list and I see E.’s face smiling back at me, pressed up against his new girlfriend. I don’t feel jealous. I don’t compare myself to her (okay, I’m more attractive… I’m still human). But when I think about going back to the city I grew up in that is no longer my own, seeing people I used to dance and sing and act with who still ask if I’m performing, and making plastic-smiled pleasantries with E., who just 2 months ago told me I’d “never” hear from him again, I get sick. My insides begin to churn and I have to make a choice.
Nineteen years turned me into someone and one single year turned me into another person completely. E. doesn’t know this new girl, and neither does anyone else who watched me on stage in high school. Sometimes even I don’t know this new girl. She is like a mythical character, part optimistic shining star part hardened, blackened city girl. And when City Girl walks into the bar and greets all of those familiar faces, she feels a little lost and out of place.
“Are you attending?” Yes.