Sunday, July 06, 2008

celebrating freedom and wanting a do-over


Yesterday, in the middle of cleaning my room (yes, I still do this) and unpacking some bins from the move last September, my Roomie found me standing stock still in the middle of my bedroom, looking down at a stack of papers, reading.

'What's up?' she asked.
'Oh, nothing,' I said, crushing some trash into a Hefty bag. 'Just wishing I was fucking smarter when I was younger and could have seen what was right in front of me instead of wanting what I couldn't have. Fucking idiot.'

'What?'
I said, 'You know when you realize how you got everything totally, completely, wrong because you thought you were sooo smart but you were really a fucking bitch and now you realize that your life could have taken a completely different turn but it didn't because you weren't paying enough attention? And you know that feeling you get when you realize you got it wrong and it's all because you found some fucking piece of writing that brings it all back and IT'S TOO FUCKING LATE?'


Roomie nodded. 'Ah. Regret.'
'Yeah, regret. Memories fucking suck.' Roomie nodded in understanding; she had some of her own to get rid of.

Like the main character in Emma, I had misread everything around me and set myself on a course of dissatisfaction and just plain old idiocy. Thank goodness for a tendency to look at my life with some kind of humor, or I'd have to add bitter to that list.

The epiphane I experienced had me shaking my head in disbelief. Aargh! Covered in dust and sweat (cleaning my room is serious business, especially when it requires assembling an IKEA bookshelf) I suddenly felt all of my 38 years, looking back at the myopic, stupid, wrong-headed girl I had been.

I wanted to build a time machine, go back to the year 1996, and shake some frakking sense into my head. If I had a time machine, I would be tearing holes in the space/time continuum right and left, exhorting my self, 'Pay attention! See - look! This, right here, is significant!'

I know exactly the moments of intervention I'd choose. Right before leaving for a certain party, I'd pop up in my machine and coolly explain to my self what's going to happen later that night and advise my self to stay home and study for my prelims; right before I open my window after hearing my name called, I'd rush in and whisper in my ear that this torn feeling, this wrenching thing that I'm feeling is ok but not to count on it - for heaven's sake don't make any decisions because of it; or, for a change of pace, maybe I'd just show up the afternoon before I lose my virginity and wryly encourage my self, 'Tonight will be great. Carry it with you. But if it can't always be like this, it's not worth it.' I would be my own annoying fairy godmother.

But science fiction was not a solution so, instead, I threw out all the papers related to my long-defunct dissertation.

Roomie said, 'Are you sure? You don't want to keep any of it? All that work?'
I snorted. 'J- threw her dissertation chapters into the Seine when she left her program. It's been 10 years. About time I stopped lugging all this crap around with me.' I shrugged. 'I'm never going back. Why carry it?'

Indeed. Why carry any of it around?

This is what's great about having some therapy under my belt - it brings a little clarity. Of course, the clarity is a little late in coming but it's something. (Woulda been great to have this kind of clarity when I was 26!) If not for clarity, recent blasts from the past would have been uncomfortable.

In short, Facebook is not something to fool around with, people.

Ghosts will pop up, make you their 'Friend' and before you click 'Approve' you will have to come to some kind of decision about your relationship to the past and whether you have enough clarity to be friends with a ghost. There is regret, yes. Regret for some missed chances and wasted opportunities - opportunities that would have forced me to take a step toward something that was real, that could have, for me, shortened this weird search for...something.

Clarity, for me, isn't about 'making peace,' 'letting go,' or 'coming to terms with.' It's about looking at my self and saying, 'Wow, ten years and you've been an idiot the whole time. Remember this feeling. Because maybe you should stop being an idiot now.'


Ok, enough navel gazing. My closet isn't going to clean itself.
(Though if I had a magic wand...)

4 comments:

jp 吉平 said...

oh god, i'm wasting my life

ding said...

not yet.

Mun Mun said...

Think of young kids today that already have Facebook or other social networks. It will be more difficult for them to shed old friends and reinvent themselves. I'm sure they'll find a way to do it though. They're so damn crafty.

ding said...

i used to wonder how my younger friends managed to keep all their college friends around them and now i know - it was things like Facebook! looking at them, still in their tribes, makes me a little envious. a very little.

there's a lot of safety in numbers.

i moved and sloughed off the past behind me, keeping in touch if i happened to be in someone's city, but not doing much to maintain contact.

the cheese stands alone, you know?