It's not that I don't love you, I just, I just want to give you the best I can. And for now, that happens to be in a beautiful new home that I think you'll love. Won't you follow me there?
Come with me. Please.
Monday, August 13, 2012
I turned 29 today.
I'm not really sure what that means - quite possibly, it means nothing.
I am at the front end of a generation that is readily criticized for it's vocality, a vocality that can often be mistaken for self awareness. So claiming to have any sort of insight on to what this milestone in my life means would probably not be met with open arms.
But I am fascinated with the idea of aging, the idea of seeing one's self evolve, or try to. Of being able to look in the mirror and note a change, even a slight one, as a denotation of a life lived, or life in the process of being lived.
There have been so many changes for me.
Some have been obvious.
The grey hair started in college as random of assortments of one or two, but that now populate my head, most specifically the sides, in rapidly increasing gangs.
There are the bags that started appearing under my eyes in the last year when I didn't get enough sleep. There was a time when not getting enough sleep was a private fact, suddenly, it was public knowledge.
Then were the random things, the dry skin that appeared under my arms. I don't know if it suddenly appeared or I just suddenly noticed it, either way my dermatologists response when I brought it up was remarkably unremarkable.
He just laughed. And followed it with
Ahhh you're getting older.
I was suddenly aware.
Then there were the not so obvious signs.
Some signs are ones that I only think I see, lenses over eyes that have now been colored with the faintest shade of wisdom, as only experience can provide.
I know I look older, though I still look young. What defines my older though I’m not quite sure. It’s a subtle shift for sure. But much like Pirsig’s thoughts on quality, while I can’t describe it, I know it when I see it.
But perhaps what I actually see is my experience, a person who is perennially at the end of a constantly expanding timeline.
Perhaps I see growth.
I think about the number.
What does that even mean?
Before they occurred I had deeply ingrained suppositions for all the major numbers. 21 meant freedom, 25 would be my peak, 30 my defining year as an adult. Perhaps marriage, kids.
But as they happened the ages were much less defined. 21 seemed significant at the time, but 22 to 25 were very much a blur. Certainly by the time I hit it, 25 didn't feel like any sort of peak. Had it actually been my peak, I'm sure I'd be depressed right now. 28 became a rebuilding year, a time to reorganize the bricks of my life that, I thought, had been organized into a steady foundation.
It's amazing how a how a house of cards can pass for a house of bricks.
So as the weeks prior to the last year of my twenties turned into days, I felt not anxiety or dread or anything that caused my heart any extra movement. Instead the most significant sensation I felt was curiosity. What did this age mean?
Me, myself, at 29 years old.
A broad look at my life brings certain things to mind. In many ways I feel calmer, more at ease, more comfortable with myself than ever.
Yet at the same time I feel more impatient and anticipatory of the things I want to fill my life with.
Those things aside though, when I look in the mirror, I see a man I almost don't recognize. For as much as I presupposed the life I would have at older ages, I don't really think I ever accurately conceptualized the idea of 29 year old me.
In some ways, I find it almost impressive. Like owning a car that continues to run after decades.
And in some ways it's terrifying. When I take a close look at my life, as I make great effort to on my birthday, I am always reminded of how incredibly fortunate I have been.
Fortunate actually seems a trivial iteration of the word Fortune, yet that is what I have. A Fortune. A wealth, a bounty of good luck and wonderful people in my life who, when in the same room, make me wonder how I managed to find so many of them.
And whenever I think about how lucky I am, I am reminded of a quote I first read in high school.
Watch out when you're getting all you want. Fattening hogs ain' in luck.
-Joel Chandler Harris
The hog writing this post grows fatter and more paranoid every day.
Because for as much as I want, as much I crave, or I strive or complain, I have no need or want for anything. If I never made more money, friends, or had more experiences than I do today, I would still be one of the luckiest people alive
So I can't help be paranoid that this 29 year old me is always one poor mistake from losing it all.
My therapist would tell me that is my anxiety kicking in. And then she'd have me read one of the sizable chapters in the even more sizable "Anxiety Workbook" she encouraged me (successfully) to purchase.
And in many ways she is right.
Because in some ways the anxiety is unfounded.
But I look at my life at 29, at the people around me, at the air that I am privileged enough to breathe, at the absurdly incomparable good fortune I have had, and marvel at how anybody with a modicum of self awareness wouldn't also worry that all could be lost in an instant.
But being grateful and paranoid is not really a thing one is. They are emotions, feelings that one experiences. And I would be saddened if those were the only two things that defined me at any age.
I had a great writing teacher once who gave me this axiom:
Whenever you can, do not sum up.
So if I were to end this by saying where I was and who I am, well, it would be a lie and also go against a pretty great axiom.
The good news is I don’t have enough information to sum up. I know I am excited to be this age, at the things ahead of me, at the year I have already embarked upon.
And while I’ll possibly never be sure of where I am, perhaps it is the confidence in where I’ve been that will help me keep every age I am, in perspective.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
I don't know where it started, or where it came from. It was just there, in my head like a fact I had always known.
I can hum along to any song I had never heard.
Of all the things for one to be capable of, this seems quiet ridiculous.
It wasn’t something I ‘made up’ exactly. That would have required some thought behind it. My efforts were more spent on defending this ridiculous statement.
Why humming? It had nothing to do with an actual ability. I was not a prolific hummer by any means. I didn’t' regularly strut around the house in a top hat swinging a pocket watch. I can't even remember a single instance where I even wanted to hum.
I might have owned a kazoo at one point in time. And I had one of those “make fun stuff out of the things in your home” books. One of the activities was turning a comb with a piece of wax paper into a kazoo. After I created it I remember thinking.
Even at 7.
So my prolific humming wasn’t one born of experience. It was just something I claimed, and for some reason, something I was proud to share.
Perhaps it was me compensating.
It could have been due to the fact that I couldn't really whistle. Not in the traditional sense anyway. I would try and try but it just, it didn't work. I couldn't understand why either. It seemed like a simple two part process.
But as I would learn later in life, over and over again; how simple something is has nothing to do with how good I am at it.
I would do this kind crap whistle, which came as a result of making a Lamaze face and pushing air out between the space in my front teeth.
I'm not sure how many people I told or how often it came up. I do distinctly remember an argument with my sister though that took place in my kitchen.
I had shared my secret ability with my sister and she immediately challenged me.
But how do you know?
I just know.
I can just do it.
Yea I can hum along to any song on the radio.
The discussion then went deeper with my sister trying to use things like "logic" and "reason" which I had no interest in.
In all fairness, I was 7.
The beauty of youth is that you can say completely insane ridiculous things that carry no significance or any bearing on the course of your adult life. Had I known this back then, I would have claimed to be good at far more interesting things than humming.
It was also around the same time that I had developed another mistaken belief. This one I didn’t really share with anybody, I just thought about it a lot. My belief was that, when competing in the Olympics, the possible medals were:
I have NO idea where I got this idea.
Maybe I had some kind of inferiority complex and wanting to make sure that I always had the chance for some recognition, I created a recognized 4th place as a possible thing to aspire to/fall back on?
I would revisit this notion as I did underwater somersault contests by myself at hotel pools on family vacations.
I would pretend to be different people in my class from school, going through underwater commentary in my head. I would do as many somersaults as I could without coming up for air, somewhere between three and five usually.
The people I liked or was friends with would do very well getting the silver or sometimes a bronze. People I didn’t like would get a copper or nothing at all.
I always got the gold.
I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to get gold in any real events, so why not one I made up?
It is not exaggeration to say I spent hours doing this.
It still doesn’t explain where the copper came into all of this.
The only place I could have even heard of copper is in a 64 pack of Crayola Crayons with a built in plastic sharpener. Copper was one of the four crayons in the box that had a very distinct metallic sheen to it. So I must have just thought if Crayola deemed it enough to be part of the pack then it must be deemed adequate by the International Olympic Committee.
Not that I knew what that was.
It wasn’t until years later watching, or should I say, actually paying attention to the Olympics that I found myself thinking:
Hey what happened to the copper metal?
I might have brought up this point to my parents, or I might not. There is a good chance I just continued watching the Olympics, observing the athletes compete for far 25% fewer medals than I thought should be available.
I probably just watched the TV as athletes crossed the finish line 4th, and thought to myself they deserved a medal for their efforts, something to act as a thank you, something they could treat as their swan song.
A swan song I could probably hum along to.