Sometime in September 2017…
I can’t believe it’s 2017.
I can’t believe I’m 29.
I remember walking the streets in Maine, coming home from school, watching the college kids at Bates College walk around. I thought, “Man they are old looking, and I’m so young. I’ll never make it to that age.”
I had perpetual thoughts that I would die before I ever made it to college. In fact I was convinced that some tragedy would find me one day and that would be it. There would be a really nice funeral, a smiling picture of me in the paper. Done. Dead.
Well it’s 2017, and I’m still alive. Actually I’m so alive that I’ve decided to write a book. It’s been on my mind for a while now. I’ve never could decide what to write about. Not until today.
The only subject that I know the best. The only subject that I can speak on with absolute certainty, be critical about, and teach from.
I’m writing about myself. I’m writing about my journey. Most importantly it’s the journey inside that I’m most interested in. It intrigues me to no end to work through my internal world.
Through the 29 years I’ve been on this earth I remember a good portion of my life. I often think if I had some sort of brain hack that I would be able to recall whatever I wanted from my life. How cool would that be right? Just plug into your head and presto! Instant recall of everything you’ve seen, said, done, and thought.
Fortunately for the reader I don’t have that ability. I can only recall my life as I remember it.
There are stories that we tell.
Those stories were created from the experiences in our lives.
These experiences reveal lessons.
These lessons are how we transfer wisdom from one person to another.
This is why we read books created by other people. We want to learn what they have learned. We want to gain the knowledge that they have in their heads. We want to avoid the mistakes they’ve made. Experience is a great teacher but the process could take a lot longer than we can imagine. Through the stories in my life I hope I can teach something.
So who am I? I’ll start with what I’m not.
I’m not poor.
I don’t live on the street.
I didn’t have a horrible childhood.
I didn’t have some insane accident that nearly killed me.
In fact there isn’t much that is crazy about my life.
What am I?
I’m a happy, healthy, normal-ish person. (Personal quirks are a given) I grew up in a normal household with two parents, a sister and pets. We lived in the state of Maine, aka under a rock. Or more accurately we lived on top of a rock. (No really… our backyard was literally a rock!)
I work full time.
And this is the beginning of my life, told to you through the lens of memory.
I guess the most natural place to start is my earliest memory. It’s the one I’m most certain and most uncertain about. I feel like it was just yesterday, but I know it was so far in the past that it might not be real.
Gold. It’s hazy and I can’t quite see. The image becomes more clear. I can see the gold seats of a car.
I can see my father, or a head of curly hair. I can feel it’s someone who loves me rather than recognizing it’s my parent.
I can see trees passing.
I feel safe, and joyful.
It lasts for eternity and a split second.
My earliest memory.
I’m in kindergarten. Something about ducks is making me and a friend quack. I like her. I want to make her laugh, so I start quacking.
Que my teacher. It feels like a Charlie Brown moment. I don’t know what she says but I shut up immediately.
I’m in Elementary school, joking with friends. My teacher looks over and prods us to be quite. We’re sitting at desks. Mine’s a mess. I don’t care about the papers my teacher gives us so I shove them into the metal box.
The memories stream together to create a feeling of Boredom.
We’re doing something that I don’t like.
I don’t like school. I don’t like sitting in a chair all day.
I want to run around but I’ll get yelled at.
I don’t like that either.
It’s a cool morning. School hasn’t started. I meet my friends on the big kids playground.
Play time was always my favorite thing about school.
I’ve had what feels like thousands of days just like this one. I’m walking to school on the broken sidewalk, thinking in my own head, excited to see my friends and sick about going to school. The misty morning was slow to rise. The sun barely above the skyline, breaking through some of the chilly haze. I remember vivid colors, the feelings I had while walking. That sick feeling stuck with me for a long time. School always felt a little like a jail.
I remember a long car ride. I think we were going to Florida in our station wagon. It was very late and my sister had fallen asleep on me. I wasn’t very comfortable but I didn’t want to wake her. I felt a sense of protection wash over me, and at the same time I was proud of myself for being good enough to let her sleep comfortably. Even at this age I can remember the deep seeded feelings that I’ve built my life from. I don’t remember much else, but I still remember those feelings as if I were sitting in that car right now.
I’m depressed. Am I? I don’t quite know. I say depressed but it’s the only way I can express that feeling.
The snow is falling on my face and the sky is slate grey and getting darker. Streaks of black clouds outline the sky as I stare.
I don’t know why I’m sad. There’s no reason for it.
I’m older now. We moved up the street to a really big house. I’m outside, I’m laying in the snow in my yard, but I’m still sad.
I’m laying on the cold hard packed snow in our yard, snow falling on my face.
It’s quiet, peaceful, and I don’t want to move. My mother calls out the window to make sure that I’m actually alive, that I didn’t hurt myself.
I was OK I just wanted to be still and talk to whoever was listening. I enjoyed thinking out loud, sitting and just watching. Listening to nature and just allowing myself to zone out, daydream. That was what I was doing now. I was also wishing for more snow. I wanted it to be a snow day tomorrow.
In a way I was talking to GOD. I didn’t really know what I meant by GOD. I suppose it meant to me that I was talking to all knowing spirit or the universe. Something not in this world but was able to hear me through whatever veil that exists.
The snow was gentle on my face but it was getting colder now. My trance broke as I started to shiver.
The world was becoming darker, and I headed inside.
Talking out loud to myself felt like I was talking to the universe. I liked it. It’s always helped me process my thoughts. I don’t remember what I was thinking about. The memory fades out before I reach the house.
Childhood is like a series of flash cards. Each one reveals a different thought and feeling. The brain doesn’t put them in order, it just flashes them up at random. It’s like a pinwheel flashing in the sun. Sometimes it’s happy and fun, other times it hurts your eyes. These flashbacks are happy, sad, scary, or frustrating. Wishing I could time travel back to my younger self to experience what life was like. I want to jump back into yourself and absorb more of the moment.
I forget what it’s like to be in a smaller body. One that isn’t as strong, as fast, or as tall. I remember being happy and energetic. Always wanting an adventure, to get out of my little world and explore what was around me.
Sometimes I would sneak away into the night through my bedroom window. It’s exhilarating being outdoors in the darkness. You don’t know what to expect, if there’s anyone else around, what animals may be lurking or why that tree keeps creepily creaking.
It’s strange how bright it seems when you’re alone in the dark. There always seems to be some sort of light. I’m not talking about light from the city, but light from the sky. Stars, the moon, maybe just ambient light that never goes away.
I’ve always enjoyed the darkness. It’s got a quiet confidence to it that dares you to venture further. Some days it’s inviting. Some days its menacing. I seemed to have tamed it when I was younger, but now it’s gotten the best of me. Fear of the unknown. Unknowing who might be out there, what animals are lurking around, or what other hidden dangers the dark world might contain. I think I’m afraid of the darkness because I know more about the world it may contain. That’s the advantage we have as children. Blissful unawareness translated into fearlessness. The excitement of trying something new is too strong to keep yourself away.
My life started small and grew as I did. I remember being a child. My thoughts get clearer as I grow. So do my emotions. I can translate more of what I think and feel. I remember this process because I’m still going through it. Right now, in my 29 year old body.
My childhood fades away and I become a teenager. I’m running more and my body is becoming exciting.
School is still challenging and shitty but I’m figuring it out.
The relationships, romantic and platonic, are all bunched into a flaming ball of emotion. Fun, anger, sadness and excitement all fight for a place at the table.
Faces of people I once knew well are flashing in front of me as if I was walking down the halls of high school.
I remember the long bus rides to our track and cross country meets. The cold days we endured, and the hot ones we suffered through. Again it’s like a series of flashcards and pinwheels flying through my minds eye.
Time speeds up and slows down all at once. I enter into my college years.
Freshman year was frustrating.
Sophomore year was lonely.
Junior year was triumphant.
Senior year was courageous.
Not the best years of my life, but formative years. As if I were a sculpture being whittled down to a defined shape.
I find myself thinking through the past 7 years. They’re more clear and defined. I can only describe them as organized.
Thinking back on it fills me with a strange emotion of joy mixed with something deeper. I’m appreciative of these experiences. Not going through these changes, good and bad, would have robbed me of an irreplaceable education.
In order to understand how I got to here we need to start diving deeper.
Down into a life burned into the distant past.