This story is about rekindling the chase and reveling in it when we are lucky enough that lady inspiration strikes.
Jackie came to visit this weekend, and whoever exists in the clouds controlling the weather decided to make it rain. Maybe it’s a lady with a Britney Spears microphone attached to her head barking orders to ‘make more clouds!’ ‘move the sun!’ or ‘make more rain fall on the east side!’ Or maybe it’s not that intentional, and our fates are decided by a flatulent old man who knocked over his water glass with one particularly violent fart. Regardless of how it happened, it rained cats and dogs this weekend. Well, water. Not actual cats and dogs.
Luckily the three of us are old friends. We don’t need the monuments to be clean and shiny and we don’t need the parks to be dry and walkable. We only need a couch to sit on, food to eat, water to drink, and bathroom to go in. And luckily our apartment is stocked with all these world-class amenities.
When you meet with old friends you remember the moments and selves that were. For me that was aimless conversation about cookies and Lord of the Rings and eating lunch every day in the back room of the library. Hanging out at the mall and at the movies and at Noodles & Company, though what we did was more akin to loitering, really. Playing piano for eleven years and never getting any good at it. Turning the volume way down on my keyboard when I played with the orchestra so no one would hear when I played the wrong chords because I never practiced. Taking English class with Mr. Randolph who treated us like college students and talked about POLITE MEANINGLESS WORDS and how I have never in my life finished reading a book for a class.
For those who don’t know me, this blog isn’t my first. I’ve been around the block. Middle school through first year of college I blogged quite religiously, and all in one place, with Livejournal. I can’t quite figure out the moment that I stopped. Well, I know the date: September 7, 2008. But I don’t know why.
I had long since forgotten about all of this. But Jackie hadn’t. She remembered that she used to enjoy my blog and she remembered the name of it, too, which I once tried to remember and failed and threw my metaphorical hands up in surrender, thinking it lost forever to the depths of the internet. http://moonsyummy.livejournal.com/.
So of course I went to read it for shits and giggles and instead I was floored. I had to cancel all my plans for the rest of the day. Twenty eight year old self is being absolutely SCHOOLED by seventeen year old self and it’s blowing my mind.
I haven’t even finished reading it. I mean, where to begin. Here, a selection of thoughts inspired by a friend with a kite and a fishing pole? Or maybe here, when I got caught drinking on campus and had to write an Alcohol Apology essay and posted it online as an entirely and laughably UNapologetic essay?
Seventeen year old self is blowing me away. She’s random and smart and opinionated and thoughtful and free and dumb and she just doesn’t care what you think, whether that was an actual decision or simply because she knows no one reads her blog except her friends. She is showing me who I am in the most pure original way.
Twenty eight year old self is looking in my mind’s mirror right now. She sees a shadow of herself, someone people recognize as thoughtful and interesting and carefree, but it’s like peering at a painting that’s been sitting outside in the sun and rain for years, so all that remains is an inkling of what the artist was trying to say to begin with.
When you’re a teenager there’s so much time. There’s so much less of everyone telling you what you have to be. There’s so much less of having to do things a certain way just so this other person won’t react this other way. Sure, there’s going to school. But the constraints are soft and what’s special about it is that the whole POINT of going to school and growing up is to explore what you like and who you are.
I see two problems with becoming an ADULT. First of all, it’s like becoming “adult” is some magical threshold after which you don’t question you just know and trying to find who you are or not knowing what you’re doing with your life becomes failure. Age is arbitrary. And to be perfectly honest, my seventeen year old self is 1000% more in touch with who I am than my twenty eight year old self.
Second, becoming “adult” means it’s time to become a functioning member of society. Our time and our minds cease to be our own. We have to get a job, we have to raise a family, and on the off chance we have any free time we have to do the pile of minutia that is laundry and cooking and cleaning and not living as a hobo on the street or smelling like Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown.
So becoming an adult is a contradiction, isn’t it? We’re supposed to have all the answers about who we are and what makes us different and special from the other six or seven billion people on earth. We’re also supposed to figure out how we fit into the long established holes that structure the world. Will we try to fit in a square-shaped hole, a triangle-shaped hole, or a circle-shaped hole? It becomes easy to forget that you’re actually emu-shaped, or tulip-shaped, or shaped like a bear who had just a little too much to eat. Instead you spend your time as a contortionist pretending to be a triangle.
Or maybe it goes like this. When we’re growing up we don’t have to BE anything. We’re just a Margaret or a Ding. Once we’re ADULT, we have these suits we zip up over our selves. Here’s my I graduated from Cornell suit. Here’s my I work at a bank suit. Here’s my I want to start a business suit. Zip, zip, zip, one layer after the next. All of a sudden we BECOME the suit we wear and we’re so busy being the suit that faces the world and hey now where did the kid inside the suit go because if we lose the kid then how is anyone different from each other anyway?
I have to find a way to be all the layers all at once. I have to be the kid who is just Margaret and the I graduated from Cornell suit and the I work at a bank suit and the I want to start a business suit and become the most evolved version of my inner emu. Because when I’m twenty eight years old I’m also seventeen years old and all the years old in between but am I.
So here’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to remind myself I’m an original until I don’t have to remind myself anymore and I know it and I live it and I breathe it to the very tips of my toes to the very depths of my soul.
I’m going to rejoin the chase on a trail I lost long ago. I’m going to chase the things that give me joy and happiness and the moments of inspiration that strike. I’m going to stop worrying about how and about what people will think and just trust and just truth. I’m going to uncage the beast and wake him up and spur him on and I’m going to throw away the bat I use to play wack-a-mole with ideas and thoughts and musings and I’m going to run and run and run as fast as I humanly can and it will never be enough but it will be enough to try my hands clenched butt clenched eyes squeezed shut absolute damndest.