Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the perfect past

Last night I tried to clean out my email, which says I have more than 1,000 unread messages. It took me to the strange place of 2004, when I first got my gmail account, and I was breaking up with my boyfriend, becoming an alcoholic slut, and trying to get my life back on track by leaving the comfortable womb of San Francisco and diving headfirst into grad school in New York. The emails were so schizophrenic---filled with so much grief and excitement, hyperactivity and insomnia. They made me extremely nostalgic for that time of my life. When I feel really lost and lonely and confused, I like to kick myself for ripping myself out of that situation where "everything" was so good.

Do you ever feel like maybe the best part of your life has already happened? I had that terrible feeling last night. Let me step back a second to say that I am not as miserable as I was in my last post, and that I have somewhat successfully coddled myself with the Hallmark encouragement phrases that "dreams take time" and "genius is 99 percent perspiration..." This isn't about feeling discouraged or disappointed anymore. It is more about feeling as though that combination of naivete, optimism and determination was the magical combination and that ever since then, things have definitely been awesome in different ways, but never again have I felt that excited about life and its possibilities. And this makes me a little sad.

Of course, we cannot retain innocent hope forever. Maybe I still experience joy and wonder and fear, but it is all couched in this underwhelming, familiar cynicism that seems to be telling me that all these emotions are somewhat deceptive. Before, the appearance of these emotions were signals to me that great change was underway. If I was scared shitless or raging uncomfortably on euphoria, I knew that something incredible was happening and I just had to hold on and soak it in. But now I find myself in these tenuous places constantly, and I have begun to see it as a sign of permanence rather than change. I don't feel like I will struggle through these nerve-wracking times and come out with answers anymore; I've been through this before and none of these things got resolved. Now the struggle is just a state of being.

I am embarrassed to admit that I still feel like I broke up with my Ex in the recent past, and that I will be stronger and smarter once I get over it. That was five years ago. As a writer, I naturally live somewhat in the past, trying to understand something in order to package it and present it in some kind of frame, some kind of context. But I think that has a detrimental effect on my life, because sometimes things can't be packaged and explained and the attempt to do so can prevent us from keeping pace with what the future brings us. It is one thing to want to avoid repeating the same mistakes, but another to become so fascinated by history that we forget to vote.

I don't really know what I'm saying. I know that there is no such thing as figuring things out once and for all, that tough decisions have to be made repeatedly, and that pursuing a problem-free existence is like trying to outrun your shadow. I also know that as shiny and happy as parts of my past may seem in photos and emails, the fact is that I wasn't content to stay wherever I was, which is why I am here---and it would be foolish to think I could have stayed there anyway. Things change. I guess I just like to be the one to incite the change, rather than have it forced upon me. I'm not one for regret, but I do wonder what it would have been like had I stayed with my job, my boyfriend. I wonder if I would have put on all this weight. Or maybe I would be dead by now. It's hard to say.


Papagayo said...

seriously serious, serious. maybe what we're looking for is a new kind of challenge, a new inspiration, that keeps us moving. i guess the hard part is keeping up with what we want to do, ie actually doing it, rather than staying shut in and not... and maybe i'm moving for about the same reason, i mean, i have some great things going on, but I guess the challenge isn't there... although then why didn't i get a job? new adventure! that's my answer.

Karim Amara said...

I say relish in these feelings. Self-reflection is tough on the soul. But in the end it makes you stronger or as you said kill you.