Cavoli Riscaldati: Dancing with My Old Self



You do not just wake up and become the butterfly—growth is a process.

― Rupi Kaur

I bumped into my old self this past weekend. I saw her perched at the bar, sipping on a glass – a double shot of Patron mixed with Pineapple Juice. She was dressed well – all black for the slimming effect and I don’t remember the last time I saw her fumbling in heels. She sported a new hair style – a sleek high ponytail to the side with fresh trimmed baby hair. – She always did love experimenting with her hair. Face was caked with makeup – a little heavy on the lashes and highlighter but – she looked radiant, and happy. More so, than I had remembered.

She wasn’t keeping track of shots, nor time. Two turned into three, three turned into four, and then four turned into five. I watched her from afar as she walked over to a section with her old friends and an old lover. She’s lifted to secure a seat up against the wall – the poor girl still can’t rock heels. She falls into the embrace of familiar faces and a few words are exchanged over the bass of the music. It was one of those moments where presence outweighed the need for conversation. She didn’t have a care in the world and was just happy to be there.

I watched her as she intensely surveyed the club, until she caught my eye. She immediately climbed down from her seat and started walking towards me – I was nervous. What would she say? How would I feel? When she finally approached me, the music stopped, the lights turned on, and the world stood still. She smiled, grabbed my hand tenderly, and gave me a kiss that said both hello and goodbye. As I watched her shadow walk away from me back into the crowd I grabbed my belongings and hopped into an Uber to take me to the closest hotel.

There’s a saying in Italian called, “Cavoli Riscaldati,” that directly translates to “reheated cabbage.” It’s the result of attempting to revive an unworkable relationship. This weekend was my first time bumping into my old self since I’ve moved to DC. I knew we’d cross paths one day and it made me nervous. Would I hate her? Would I miss her? Would I acknowledge her? I used to think growth was a tug-of-war between Rahwa 1.0 and Rahwa 2.0 but I’m learning that growth is so much more fluid with toes being dipped into the past. When I saw the old me, I cherished her, and she revered the new me, but it was clear we were no longer compatible. I wonder how many more times I’ll see her, and I wonder if there’ll ever come a day when we walk by each other as strangers.

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