And then I looked in the mirror, and saw a streak of gray in my hair.
I haven’t run a marathon. I haven’t owned a house. I haven’t lived anywhere more than three years since I was 18 years old. Now I’m 33, and I have a streak of gray in my hair.
I haven’t travelled abroad. I haven’t been in a fist fight. I haven’t gotten blackout drunk and woken up in a strange place. I haven’t hitchhiked. I haven’t gone dancing. I haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. I haven’t taken a cruise, but now I have a streak of gray in my hair.
I haven’t written a book. I haven’t started a business. I haven’t made investments. I haven’t sought my fortune. I haven’t been called by Destiny. I haven’t learned from my mistakes. I haven’t found what I am looking for. I haven’t seized the moment. I haven’t let go of the past. I haven’t blazed a trail. I haven’t heard opportunity knocking. I haven’t picked up the pieces. I haven’t found the silver lining.
But I have looked in the mirror, and under all the years and chances, the delays and obstacles, the stumbling and slacking, the roads not taken, and dreams not pursued…there is a streak of gray in my hair.
The door creaks and moans its protest as I enter. The floorboards cough dust upon my bare feet with every step. I lay my hands on the old furniture, still covered in the yellowing bed sheets, looking like so many corpses, and wonder why I bothered protecting sofas and chairs that I thought never again would receive guests.
I was born here.
I pull the curtains back from the dirt-coated windows and turn to see the now illuminated living room and, for a fleeting moment, it looks as it did once upon a time. The cat stretches on the new carpet, the Christmas tree blinks and shines in the corner, my family gathers around the television, my nephew thumps across the floor in search of new adventure. When I bat my eyes the years reassert themselves, and the cold clenches down upon the house once again. It takes me several seconds to realize that my mouth was open and my breath was drawn, ready to speak to these old ghosts. A loneliness the world has never known settles into my chest.
I was born here.
I light the candles. I remove the sheets. I clean the windows and the floor. I make everything come to life again. I sit down in the old recliner, preparing the stories I will tell. The door creaks and moans its protest as you enter. Come in. Sit down.