When I was going through some old journal entries the other day, I came across the following, and it really struck me how rarely I think about my younger self these days, but that at least when I do, it's with more sympathy than I had for myself at the time.
February 25, 2007 – at a conference in Boston
On Friday, I was having extremely strong déjà vu, memory flashbacks of being a student, going from South Station to the Red Line during rush hour with luggage, and especially climbing the stairs. It wasn’t even just a mental memory but a physical one, my body flashing back to the way it had been, to the sheer almost-impossibility of getting up the stairs with my luggage. I got a little short of breath even now, 100 pounds lighter and with less stuff, and what was interesting was suddenly discovering a new respect for my younger self. At the time, I only hated it, hated my body and myself for being that way, but now I look back and realize what an effort it was for me, how strong I actually was to be able to do it at all. I don’t think I could do it now - strap on an extra 100 pounds and surmount those stairs - and that’s a strange, sobering thought. It made me want to comfort that younger me, but it was also oddly healing, something I hadn’t expected, an unlooked-for gift.