I saw it slowly creeping into my social media feeds, side by side pics of friends, family and celebrities showing what they looked like 10 years ago. Everyone looking so fresh and young and gorgeous – even without an instagram filter! I found myself saying audible awws at the faces of these humans that I have delighted in seeing grow up and older, either online or in real life, and write reflections about how much their lives have changed in the last 10 years.
For some people it was because of marriage, or children, or crazy job changes or moves across the country or around the world. I loved reading their reflections of who they were, and how amazed they got from the person on the left to the person on the right.
I started to think about 2009 me, and I feel totally sure that if she met 2019 me there would be awkwardness. Not just because of the additional smile lines, and the fact that for the first time in about 15 years I don’t have any variation on bangs (I know you guys, I have a forehead! It shocked me too!), but also because I was unsure if I would still be alive in 2019. Don’t get me wrong, I was SUPER hopeful that I would still be hanging out, but I had a strong fear that death would come back again, and this time it wasn’t going to miss.
Because of this, Katie in 2009 was obsessed with LIVING. Which at that point in time meant not sitting still. I approached every day as if it was going to be my last – with a big smile, aggressive joy, and a recklessness that can only be found in a person who knows what it’s like to close your eyes with very little hope they would open again.
I lived in fast forward for all of the people who died too young. I went out every night, drank a lot, searched for magic in every candle-lit bar, underground music venue or on the roofs of strangers apartments. Then I would wake up, and go to a job I didn’t like very much, and clock out and start the search for some combination of joy and magic. Running as fast, and as hard as I could towards something meaningful. Every night I would come up short of the meaning I was hoping for, so I would pour myself into bed, and vow to try harder the next night.
I think 2009 Katie would be surprised that 2019 Katie doesn’t need to live in FFWD all the time, because life is good enough that she wants to really enjoy it, to savor it, to be in love with it. It isn’t a numbers game anymore, where the more events I go to, the more people I see the more things that I do, the better. It’s become quality over quantity, but I am pretty sure that 2009 Katie would think I was kind of lame. Who eats meals they cook themselves!? Weird.
I know she would be also surprised that she did the scary thing, and left her corporate job and went into nonprofit work. Maybe she would have been shocked that even after “How to Get Run Over by a Truck” got rejected over 100 times, she didn’t give up. That she found a way to get the book into the hands of people who needed it.
I am not sure that 2009 Katie, would have envisioned running her own small business, or that people would pay her actual money to talk about what she’s overcome. That others would feel inspired after hearing her speak, that they would believe that they could be successful even after their lives have been run over by a truck.
I don’t know if she knew that she had the potential to take her greatest trauma, and turn it into her life’s greatest triumph. That the same hunger and fear that made it impossible to slow down, could be channeled into aggressively creating a life that couldn’t be found on an apartment rooftop, or an underground bar but was full of magic and meaning nonetheless.