Yesterday I was born: the start of the new generation. Yesterday I was a little girl with pigtails, a freckled face, and happy, bright eyes. I was as innocent as a ray of sunlight, as young as the first snow, the snow that comes before the last apples have fallen from their trees. Yesterday, my days were simple. Happy, but simple. My view of the world did not extend beyond the town I grew up in. And in a world so small, everything in it was big. My little backyard, large enough to fit a sandbox, a few trees, a see-saw and not much else was transformed into an empire by my siblings and me. We filled our joyous yesterdays by letting our imaginations run loose. We dug for treasure in the sand, turned the canopy under the tree into a fox den, built architectural wonders from a few dozen old bricks. We walked to school down the same streets, wishing a good morning to the same neighbors, and somehow always running late. Yesterday I was young; I never got bored. Yesterday, my mother and father bought me a computer. I was too young and the parental controls imposed on my new machine too ineffective. I learned new things I should not yet know. I found out about the evil in the world. Yesterday, I was painfully innocent; my mind found it too difficult to deal with all that sadness. So I shut it away in the dark corners of my mind and let it rot there.
Today, I am almost the same person I was yesterday. Today, my eyes don’t shine in the same way they used to, their color faded. Others tell me that my eyes are pretty, but they just feel empty. Yet they betray the same emotions. I still feel in the same ways I had yesterday. I am still a child, I just know too much. Today, all the sadness came crashing down on me, forcing me to fight it, to accept it. Today, I am trapped in the institution of education, embracing knowledge and learning for as long as I can before reality tells me that I don’t even need it. I hide myself from the word, behind the fabric of clothing; too scared to even expose my collarbone; too lost in my mind to fully acknowledge my own existence. But today I do find happiness in the little things: in the smell of summer, in the sound of the trees, in the gentle caress of a stray breeze. Today, I met a German couple, tourists, at a café in New York City. They asked me if I wanted to be their friend. I said yes. “You are not rude” they told me after we had chatted for a while, “the first friend we have in New York. Most people aren’t nice like you are.” “Thank you,” I said, “but everyone here is busy, always in a rush to get somewhere, they don’t have the time to be nice.” They don’t have the time to be human. But here I am. Floating through space. Walking aimlessly down busy streets. Sitting alone in cafés to write. A wanderer. As the couple left they said: “have a nice life.” Today, I hope I will.
Tomorrow, I will be old. My bones will be tired not from a desire to give up, but from pride in the life I had lived. Tomorrow, I will have a mind full of stories to share with my children, my grandchildren, my dogs and cats. My eyes will be paler, a translucent green. The bags under my eyes darker. But I will be happy. Happy for my peasant childhood; happy for all those aimless todays. Tomorrow, makeup plastered on my face would still feel foreign. Tomorrow, my nails will never have felt the plaster of chemicals; my hair, would have always been the same color; my heart would have the same blood running through it. Through all the yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows I will be myself. I will be Kat. Maybe I would have found the beauty my mother says I have in me. Maybe I would have felt the pain of love and would have truly felt alive. Maybe, I would have found peace. Tomorrow, I will die, but I will not be afraid if dying, only sad to be leaving. But tomorrow, I will also be happy. Happy for a life well lived. Happy.