A Living Anachronism

By: Amanda Pendley

As the years go by and we outgrow our old faces and our old skin and our old identities, 
I wonder to myself if we are really becoming new people at all, 
or if we are simply just accumulating more years and more selves 
the same way we layer our bodies with coats and scarves in the wintertime.

As I learn more about the world, I realize I am not merely a child of the nineties any more
but one of every decade and every moment since the earth began that has lead up 
to my sense of becoming.
Even before I existed, I was in the process of becoming.

I believe in past lives as strongly as I believe in the future, which is to say that although my assurance falters, that sense of knowing without truly knowing is always persistent.

And here is why:
My great aunt left home at the age of 17;
she went to California for purposes left unknown 
besides the fact that she wanted to become someone
 other than her previous self.

I’d like to think that she became a movie star or an artist, 
and there’s no way to tell, 
but somehow in the back of my mind I know that she was.
The same way I know without truly knowing 
that there is truth to be found
 in past lives and in the future.
Her name was Goldie: a name reflected by the color of her hair, 
but nowadays she is reflected through me.
We are mirror images, just trading off our time in the world.
Sometimes I wonder if I am a reincarnation of her, 
for I feel too much for all of the emotion inside of me to be solely mine.
Maybe I’m an anachronism in itself 
someone stuck in a body not her own with a mind 
that’s simultaneously both brand new and ancient.

Maybe this contradiction is why I am so thoroughly
 black and white,
 but feel nothing but grey.
Sometimes though, grey is revolutionary.
Black and white photos of marches and protests 
serve as validation that humans in the past 
felt the same way that I do now.
The same way that Goldie did, I presume, 
as she sought to make something out of herself:
 to become someone.

I was 17 in 2017. 
I was taught that I need to make something of myself, 
but now I know better. 
All of my years have convinced me that I am a woman who is continuously making herself, 
and will continue to do so until I die and am born again;
until time is circular, or maybe until scientists find out that in a way it already is.
I revisit the past and dream up the future, 
creating worlds in which I can have both at the same time.

I feel all of my past lives communicating with each other inside my head.
They say, “Enough with this whole idea of making something out of yourself! I already am someone, someone who has been making herself all her life, creating and destroying and rebuilding and I say that’s enough.”
All I do is create.
I write my way out of the past and into the future, 
even if that future seems fictional and unattainable.
I believe in its truth nonetheless.

Those old black and white photographs of protests and marches are revolutionary
they still exist inside of us today.
Even if you do not believe in past lives
there is no doubt that the traces of those who lived before us are still here.
They are the voice of your subconscious and the whisper of intuition
We are more than ourselves.

And if we are forced to keep “making something of ourselves,” then we will. 
We will write, and we will fight, and we will speak.
We will rewrite time.
After all we are just trading off time in this world; we are mirror images, Goldie and I.

I know this to be true as much as I believe in the future, as much as I believe that we wear our years like layers to keep us warm, as much as I know that I am a living anachronism in itself, and as much as I know that just like my great aunt, I am constantly becoming who I’m meant to be, even if my life is left as a memoir unfinished.

And how do I know?
I will tell you to close your eyes and notice how even in the dark, 
you can still sense where the light is coming from.
You can’t necessarily see it because well, your eyes are closed, 
but you can tell it’s there.
It has a presence, it carries weight.
There is a place in the universe, a place in time, where this exists.
This sense of knowing without knowing, 
this sense of light.
The voice of all of the things
in which I know to be true;
A different kind of
A living 
in itself.