Here I am! The person inside, age 14.

I experienced a huge revelation this week: there’s a person inside me who, for the first time in years, perhaps decades, is free!


She’s a very young person, fourteen as close as I can tell. I felt her knocking earlier this week while meeting with a friend from long ago, someone I haven’t seen for my entire adult lifetime. Something about the mix of 1970s recollections, life in between and what is going on for us these days produced a mental/emotional alchemy that shifted my identity just enough to change some of the space devoted to grief to a place for hope and the future. It took a while to pin this feeling down. I felt fabulous, but what did it mean? Answer: plain, simple awakening.


I’m still here! I will grieve for Bruce forever, but now there’s room for me, too.


Crazy stuff, and I’m thankful to the friend for co-creating this combustion. Now, it’s up to me to maintain the new space for the old me.


Right now, I’m doing this by feeling giddily happy. Moving lightly on my feet. Singing to my pets. Smiling at every achievement and laughing at setbacks. I was in here all the time.


It’s so easy to miss the gradual shutting down of the younger self as life piles on hardship, achievement and loss, and modes of joy begin to reflect adult tastes instead of childlike ones. There once was a rebel inside of me. She came out in the early 1960s when my Grandma Mary was trying to cuddle me and called me Baby Dear. “I’m not a baby!” I declared. “I’m Tusan!”

As Alvin the Chipmunk, 1963, at or near the “Tusan” years.

Look out, world, Tusan is back. Or maybe someone a few years older who started spelling it Suzin. It was vital to let the world know I was unique. The development of empathy for others gradually taught me that everyone is unique. Along the way this understanding got overbalanced by the notion that everyone else’s plans were more important than mine. It became my job to support what other people wanted for themselves and/or expected of me.


It’s true that if you want to develop healthy, lasting relationships with people you need to both give and take. I’ve been historically weak on taking. I don’t like being beholding to other people or being the center of attention (except when it’s my job to be the center of attention). How this equated to putting my needs last I’m not sure, but for a long time it did.


Life is hard at fourteen, when everything is far too exciting and/or confusing to keep one moving in a straight line. Then, my lifeline was theatre. Now, it’s writing, gardening and my four-legged kids. I need these things more than ever right now because it’s darn distracting, having all this fourteen-year-old energy racing around inside!


So I’m doing the writing, the gardening, and the pet care, but I’m also taking little glee breaks here and there to enjoy this new vitality. If I don’t, I’m pretty sure the top of my head will blow off.


It’s an interesting path to follow. As I go, I plan to pick up clues for keeping up the steam.

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