Depending On When You Met Me …

Depending On When You Met Me

Depending on when you met me,
I might have been:

A five-year-old sitting alone on a stoop,
Tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth,
Brow furrowed in concentration,
As she fought to master the art
Of shoelace-tying...

A ten-year-old grade five, terrified
To be starting at her fourth new school,
This time in a different province,
And enduring the stares of those
Who'd all grown up together...

A fifteen-year-old writing in a middle-school library,
Churning out lunch-time pages for an anxious crowd,
The latest installment of a soap opera
Starring Duran Duran
Taking acceptance where she could get it...

A twenty-year-old security guard, doing outside rounds
Of a fifty-acre psychiatric hospital property,
Swinging a Detex clock and breathing in fog,
Silently begging the shadows not to move, and her
Fellow guards not to prank...

A twenty-five-year-old tour guide,
Wearing a mishmash of "historic costume",
Biting her tongue behind the wide smile,
As those who had just been rude asked,
"Can you tell me where to go?" ...

A thirty-year-old substitute teacher,
Wheeling AV carts through crowded halls,
Asking strangers to unlock classroom doors,
Ignoring "Don't smile until Christmas,"
And learning to teach math in French on the fly...

A thirty-five-year singing Duranie,
In a university stadium in Northern Virginia,
Finally seeing the original band members 
Twenty years after screaming herself hoarse 
At LiveAid on television...

A forty-year-old crisis intervention worker,
Answering middle-of-the-night calls
At the domestic violence shelter
A resource of resources, and
Powered by energy drinks...

A forty-five-year-old brain injury survivor,
Parking in the lot at Walden Pond for the first time,
Blinking in disbelief, relief and sheer joy,
Having made it there entirely under her own power,
And not been squashed like Frogger on the I-95...

A fifty-year-old pandemic recluse
Staring at a screen full of rectangular strangers,
All teacher-writers with words to share,
With her feeling like the first day of grade five again,
Not knowing that they were all her friends already.