My daughter stood on a stage, wearing fringe and sparkles and wailing in harmony with the other vocalists in the indie rock band. A friend from her high school days leaned over and whispered,
“What does it feel like to look at that on stage and know you gave birth to it?”
Weird was what it was. And yet, not weird. Because overlaid on the face accented with cat’s-eye eyeliner was the wide-eyed little girl, bobbing her head in time to rap music at an Easter celebration I had wandered into, the only white girl in a sea of head-bobbing dark-skinned children. The same girl, grown up.
And that made me think of an article I read about what it is that makes us “us” even as our bodies grow, even as we get a completely new suit of cells through the years.
The article asks what makes us “us” – and what does it take for us to stop? Is it mental illness? Is it amnesia? Is it death? What if you wake up one morning feeling not quite like yourself? Is your identity slipping, or is it an anomaly?
I believe we are all essentially ourselves during all our days alive, despite experiences and years. Not sure about after death, but I at least feel I have evidence of the living sameness.
My daughter is not just a rock singer, but also a nurse, and I can trace those twin desires to perform and to caretake all the way to the first days she showed a personality. I knew and fell in love with my husband the first time I met him and, though he has changed much through the years, the essential person I recognized during that long-ago lunch together, is consistent. And, whenever I enter a room of mostly strangers, the shy only child I was, swims to the adult surface.
Grown up but the same.