Underthecurrent


sturdy up your heart
December 5, 2017, 4:52 pm
Filed under: insight, when I grow up

[A quick scan shows December is a rare thing in these archives.  Has it always been a dark month? A busy one?]

This has been the heaviest birthday.  Too much time to ruminate and shake around the facts to try and make sense of why has, maybe, not been the most prudent use of time.

On one hand, there is a list of everything that has gone right, which being reasonable (and having any sense of perspective) looks like a semi-charmed life.

On the other, there is the question:  is this where you thought you would be right now?

Are you who you want to be right now?

What are the things you thought you’d make time for over those years that got missed?

How will it feel if you never doing those things?

Will you be happy if the second half of this trip looks mostly like this first round?

Do you even have enough time to change any of these streams?  If you do, how close is it to the escape hatch blowing by, the point where it’s much hard to change streams?

Are you making the most of this stupid short time in the universe?

*

It’s hard to talk about this with most people.  Complaining about a solipsistic existential crisis when so many people have real, hard, non-existential stuff that is happening is apex jerk.  Whining about having too many options and wondering if there are better-than-good options.

But.

Not asking these questions, at least privately, is the scariest thing right now.  Just floating on, continuing to ride the path of relative middle class first world success.  When examining this first act, the worst fear is that maybe too many easy routes were taken.  It’s easier, in some ways, to do things to make another person happy than it is to protect your own happiness.  It’s easier to do things you’re obviously good at, although perhaps unsatisfying, than to fail a bit at things you’d like to be good at.  It’s easiest to conform and hide than to challenge and be criticized.

 

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One month later
November 30, 2017, 12:21 am
Filed under: nomadisms, unrelated thoughts

This winter has been nothing but hard rain alternating with biting cold, the darkness seems to come earlier, the carbohydrates more seductive.  Nothing gets done, each day blends a bit into the next.  Work has slowed down a lot, which is fine given that early commutes in the pouring rain would not necessarily be ideal.

Planning a trip to LA.  Travel in cities is always more technical, there’s more to see (and miss) and it’s easy to accidentally spend a lot of money on pointless things like logistics and average food.  I had always written the city off a bit, it was booked in part because airfare was so ridiculously cheap and it is likely to be just a little warmer and less rainy.

We’ve been entertaining ourselves, in the meanwhile, with random evenings out of the house.  Shutting down multiple bars on Sunday nights.  A birthday that ended with a shot with a favorite dive bar owner.  Pancakes and other welcome diversions.

Everyone keeps asking about plans.  Where do you plan to be?  What are you planning to do?  There was a point where it became clear that the answers were designed more to appease than out of any sense of reality.  The point of this is to stop having so many plans, in lives that have been full of them, for awhile.



Great Expectations
November 17, 2017, 1:35 am
Filed under: runaway, when I grow up

In such a strange head space right now.

Work yesterday was fun – the food, the people, just enough action to keep things busy. Some funny stories. Worth leaving the house at 6:30 am and getting back around 10:00 pm.  So much of the job has to remain concealed.  Non-disclosure agreements, social media policies.

I walked in to get dressed, she said “We’re going to have to ugly you up!”

Today was just rain and darkness.  Back to the question of what to do in this city.  Killing time and ending up doing nothing at all.  Sitting in this vantage point, looking back over these years.  Feeling feelings continues, for better or worse.

It’s not hard to find the right words to make those years productive, almost compelling.  Helping people; genuinely there are a handful whose lives were very impacted by the work.  Making money, decent money.  Professional achievements.  Spending more time with family.  Maybe in time any of these will come to mean more, to feel like more than items accomplished on someone’s to-do list.

It’s also not hard to look and see that most people were doing the same.  Social media feeds shifted from imperative information to “at least it’s funny” to obscenely dull.  If it’s not shots of deeply mundane life events, it’s commentary on television programs or grating politics.

Maybe the abyss began to stare back.

All stacked up, it’s impossible not to want more.  To feel envy for the sprinkling of people who seemed to pursue more instead of sedating and just waiting for life to get on with it.

The most striking aspect of the last few years is a strange kind of loneliness.  In part, this is probably a consequence of not being really seen.  Pretending to be something, to fit into something, has that danger.  It gets harder to take the mask off at all.  It has also been a consequence of changing behaviors to fit assumed expectations – socially not being too loud, too funny, too forward.  Whose expectations becomes the question; there are several answers, some of them uncomfortable.

Coming out from these walls: like coming out of a bomb shelter after a long time away.

*

The call is coming from the ocean.  Ten years ago, a perfect morning.  Everything still but the water.  A feeling of peace, completeness, for the first time ever.  Letting go.

*

All of the big life questions seem to be looming at once.  Where will you live? What will you do? Who will you be surrounded by?  Everything is so wide open.  It feels almost wrong, things aren’t supposed to be like this at this age.  Don’t you have something together?

I’ve been resisting writing.  Because it feels like the truth will continue to come out and perhaps there are downsides to this.  Exploration can lead to discomfort.



home and away
November 8, 2017, 7:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“You looked happy when you got off the plane,” he said, “you didn’t look happy to see me.”

“I was happy to see you.”

A month plus away woke everything up.  That dormant energy that felt like it would be gone forever crackled again.  The strangest part was starting to feel feelings again, good and bad.  Even the bad ones feel good compared to an absence, alive.

In the first two weeks, at a party.  A man came over and grabbed my hands, moving them, dancing for me.  “Now you’re having fun,” he smiled and wandered away.

The last big night out things were completely different.  Everything came easy again.

Midway through, a shift.  There was a conversation and then separate ways, a connection that suddenly ended, on a dark street well past the middle of the night.  It was as though the taps of the last few years turned on with this last little push, this insignificant thing.  I laid down in the dark and the sense of loss was physical and hot, choking the warm morning air.

The last day, a complicated bus to a beach, half conversations in Spanish at the terminal.  Talking to strangers through the day, conversations as easy as the slow tides, I order a bowl of sangria at an expensive beach bar and as he brings it the waiter tells me it has been paid for by someone a few tables away.  Plans to take a boat ride fall through, back to the bus stop.  On the return trip, listening to a soundtrack added to and played on repeat, everything starts to wash over.  This whole year coming clean against a sunset in a strange land.



a good choice
May 25, 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: when I grow up

As though the universe wanted to assure that this was a Good Choice, the last few weeks have illustrated all the frustrations:  unreasonable demands, incompetent support, rudeness and a touch of condescending commentary.

Majestic, really.



Goals
May 15, 2017, 11:55 pm
Filed under: when I grow up

Sometime a few months ago, a target was picked based on some calculations.  The whole genesis of this number is not memorable, just that it was round and it made sense.  Today, two weeks ahead of schedule, the needle ticked over.  Achieved. Done.

It’s mostly a secret.  Some people know parts but it’s unclear if anyone knows everything, other than the two of us.  It’s better that way.  It also wasn’t a grand plan, just a series of decisions, piece by piece.  The first steps were the hardest but maybe also the most satisfying.  Now it’s just a bunch of numbers, moving up and down.

The future? Wide open.



apple juice in the hall
May 8, 2017, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The call three days ago.

A few days before that, he clicks on a picture.  A few months before, he writes “I love you, I miss you” but he never calls the number in the last message. The last conversation, probably five years ago, no recall of those last words or days.

It’s impossible not to run over the path.

We’re twelve or thirteen and he’s somehow drunk, stupid drunk.  It’s dawn, outside the sun rises and the dew is cold and settled down.  Things are not good, this was out of control.  Sleep gets lost, wrapped in a blanket, waiting for the bad night to end.

Fifteen or so – this one is just a flash.  We’re in a car dropping off bags of fake money.  At the time, it’s not obvious this is what is going on, but later he tells the truth.  He’s getting in deeper.  For fun, for extra cash, it’s not even clear.

Sixteen or so.  A wedding where we steal drinks.  It’s miserable for him, that day.  That’s the story behind those beautiful pictures.  He whispers that he’s taken a pill, the kind that makes you happy and warm when all you want is to drop down, down, down.  He looks happy in the pictures.

Maybe we’re out of our teens now, it’s not clear, this one’s just a flash too.  His parents are gone, maybe they trust I’m around.  The good one.  He’s mad about blood in the sink at this low key gathering of friends, someone’s sneaking off for lines of coke.  At some point, a pill is passed around, little halves of oxy.  It will be years before what this is and how bad this is fully clicks.

Another flash.  It’s a bar and for two minutes, away waiting for the bathroom, then there’s a fight.  He’s thrown out, the police come by.  We go to the hospital for stitches, at some point he cries like a child, when he’s falling asleep or passing out.  Waiting, waiting in the hallway, hearing him cry for his mother, she’s nowhere near in any way.

We’re definitely older now, twenties.  He lies that he’s working at a club, that’s how he’s paying for the apartment, well he’s lying to the rest of the family but the hockey bags going in and out make it obvious.  Don’t ask, don’t tell.  We spend a bunch of time together.  This is the last time he’s at all in control, the last time we feel close, listening to music, watching movies.

It’s two years later.  We meet for breakfast in a strange city, he has a beer.  Things are not okay.  He’s rude somehow, lost to time, the friend with me recognizes it.  This is how my family sometimes is.  We leave the city, leave him behind.

*

The last few days snap all of this in a line, points.  The worst is that he never really made it to this age, this look-back-on-it age where you grant yourself amnesty for the decade before and everyone can be a little more real.  All lined up, the anxiety and sadness is more obvious.  He distracted from it all the time, when he was younger with overconfidence and charm, when he got older with anger.

He wasn’t treated well.  As an adult, looking back, it’s horrible to think about how other adults behaved towards someone who had limited control over the situation he was in.  He was just a kid.  Right to the end, decisions that must be, should be, in retrospect, painful to the people that made them.

This is not to say he should not have been responsible.  So many times there was a right track and a wrong track and he purposefully turned into the wrong road, and sped up.