It’s true. The seeds of most anything that’s ended up here have been sown during my most mundane of tasks, which quite often ends up being around dinner time on Tuesdays. And the funny/awful thing is that, in my head, I’m able to “write” a beautiful post from beginning to end. But what ends up on the page the next day is usually a distilled version of it, and that’s only if I manage to remember it decently well. I’m not a great in-the-moment writer. I’ve always needed to think of my words first and then spew them forth…and then significantly edit, edit, and edit some more said spew.
That’s kind of what’s happening here, except that although I came up with some rather relevatory and intriguing thoughts while making a batch of quesadillas last night, they’ve become very fragmented today. It’s almost like trying to recall a dream, except that the remnants are much more coherent. You see, I’ve been in a supremely weird headspace of late, and I’m pretty sure that is has to do with college. Specifically, my college, and that fact that this year marks the 20th anniversary of me graduating from it. That’s insane, right?
I don’t know that I cared much in 2002 when that anniversary hit the 5-year mark hit. (In fact, I know I didn’t because I was on my way to grad school then.) As 2007 came and went, I remember getting together with my dearest group of friends with whom I happened to graduate (from the same college), and we were all like “Holy shit, 10 YEARS!” And then we moved on to talk more about the present than the past. In 2012, the 15th anniversary came and went without even the slightest thought — that year was all about buying a house, getting married, and being an adult.
Now here I am. Stuck on 20 years. Unwittingly stuck in this moment where I find my mind wandering backwards to the me of 1997. And what a gal I was! How cool and self-confident and brazen I was back then. At least…I think that’s how I was. But it really shouldn’t matter because I’m ME now. And that’s…good? See, the really shitty thing is that I can’t figure out why this feels so troublesome in this moment. I mean, sure I can blame the 20 years and all, but 20 is just another number. I’m happy. Life is good. Whether the me of 1997 was awesome or not, I don’t want to be the me of 1997.
Remember those quesadillas? Well, as I was filling and flipping and cutting, I started to wonder about why it is I tend to idealize my past self? And is this something everyone does, either wittingly or not? I have both written and visual record of myself from 20 years ago, and when I feel compelled to look back, it’s almost like I’m seeing the history of someone who is both me and not me. I read journal entries of someone who seemed fearless, took risks without even realizing it, and gazed upon her world with a firey fierceness. But then I look at the pictures of the person who wrote those entries, and all I see are big glasses, weird hair, and one too many baseball t-shirts. I see a dork who somehow or other managed to think of herself as, well, impressive. And the thing of it is that I remember feeling supremely confident during my nascent 20s. I remember the fearlessness, the camaraderies, raucous nights and fuzzy days, and that simple sense of “I am who I am and fuck everyone else,” even if I think my outward appearance might have dictated otherwise.
Self-reflection can be quite the bitch sometimes. While part of me thinks that the 1997 me might have been some version of the “ideal” me, the 2017 me is actually my truer self. Everyone goes through a rebellious phase, and I know I enjoyed the hell out of mine. I’ll well admit that I see part of my own online persona as an extension of my younger self, the one who’d happily give a big middle finger to anyone who cared to stare. But the person that I am today is actually more like my adolescent self. That awkward teenager who spent weekends in the library getting lost in book after book after book. That terribly average middle school student who once stalwartly refused to present her science project because she was so very embarrassed by it. (I readily took a “C” grade in its place.) That wakingly unfashionable femme who, for a time, didn’t go anywhere in public without her bleached jeans with the fold-down waist. (OMFG, I wore those things until they were practically threadbare.) Yep, nowadays, I pretty much feel like a middle-aged dork, only one that’s traded in acid-washed jeans for black dress pants.
Whatever was really in my head last evening was much more elegant than this, but some portion of this well of emotion boils down to the desire to prove oneself, and how that desire dwindles or heightens over time. During my parents’ era, the thing to do was to grow up, be crazy, and then “settle down.” Obtain stability, have a family, retire peacefully, die with respect. Part of me wants some of that too, but it hardly feels possible when those “I used t’be a contender” feelings come on strong, like they are now. That’s my emotional right brain in anguish. My logical left brain say, “wait a minute — you DO have all that. You’re stable, you have a family, you’ll (probably) be able to retire, and when you’re time comes, everything will be okay.” Yes, I’m pretty sure that the world’s greatest boxing match is going on inside my head. And what a goddamn headache it’s producing.
In my head, all my blog posts get neatly wrapped up with some sort of clever bow. My charming wit shines through as I take a gracious leave. In reality, shit usually just ends. I feel so much better for it. And once again, I’m grateful to have this space where I can dump the words and feelings that often prevent me from, well…being me. I do feel like I should leave on something of a positive note here. After all, you deserve something for trudging all the way down here after whatever it was that happened above. So how about this. If I’m still blogging in another 20 years (the thought, it makes me giggle)…which would be what, 2037?…I promise to tell stories about the joy of being alive. That, alone, is enough to make me smile.