A few days ago, I made the terrible, terrible discovery that my oldest blog (which I will not be linking to, you vultures), which I started when I was 18 or 19, is still online. It’s worse than you can possibly imagine. I am irritating as all hell and completely raw and feverish all the time. I’m breaking up with Catholic High School Boyfriend and beginning to date the man who would become my ex-husband. I’m not quite done being Catholic yet. Terrible.
In the process of squirmingly, excruciatingly reading some of these posts, I also revisited some of the poetry I wrote in my late teens. It’s predictably, nightmarishly bad, and because I enjoy humiliating myself now and again, I sent Jairus Khan the files for the first chapbook I ever printed, way back in 2001 when I was 18. The poems in in were primarily written earlier, when I was 15-17, and I emailed the files over without re-reading them so I’d send them at all.
The only part I have since re-read, on his recommendation, is the bio I wrote in the back.
Natalie Zina Walschots is a blond and bespectacled 2nd year English Literature Creative Writing student at the University of Windsor. She loves poetry and pasta, people and pens, and has a tendency to wander into telephone poles, unsavory characters and oncoming traffic. She will have carpal tunnel syndrome before she is twenty and will grow up to be a writer living in a tiny apartment with a typewriter, many cats and a single green pepper in the refrigerator.
It’s the last sentence that I keep coming back to. My apartment isn’t all that tiny anymore and my beautiful Underwood is in storage, but otherwise, that’s pretty accurate. You always had a knack for telling the future, kiddo.
I have a recurring daydream where I manage to get ahold of a time machine, and have the chance to visit myself when I was fifteen. Fifteen was the age I feel like I became myself, in a weird way; like my consciousness fully blinked on, all systems go, and my sense of self solidified in some ways that have never been shaken. It was also an incredibly dark and difficult time for me in a lot of ways, when I was more raw and wounded I would be for another ten years, but with the added complication of a lack if independence and any real control over my life and boundaries.
I want to visit her; I think it would help. I don’t have any advice or anything really dramatic to say, exactly, but I’d like to show up, if only for a minute, so she can see me, and so I can say, “You’re going to be fine. There’s going to be a lot of shit but you’re going to survive it all and stay intact and it’s all going to be so much better than you can possibly imagine right now. It’s going to be great.”
What I say has never changed, but when I choose to go back has, repeatedly. Like, what version of me would I want younger me to see? When my first book came out, or my second? When I was married, or when I first moved to Toronto? When my hair was purple or blue or bleach white, or with one of my tattoo still bleeding under gauze? What would be most comforting, most hopeful, most strong and joyous?
It’s now. Right now.