Yesterday at work I got bored and played on tumblr for awhile. I went through my archived posts and realized I had started this blog in September 2010. Nearly four years ago. How can that be?
I remember how I felt - lost, grey. I remember the goal - to feel more normal, more like myself. I thought maybe I could write my way into it. It used to work,when I was little. I hadn’t written in years. I set up the blog in secret, which it mostly still is. No one reads it, really.
I wrote whenever I felt like it and said whatever moved me. There isn’t a lot there. But yesterday I clicked through the pages and remembered that year in vivid detail. The stress of being 29 and looking backwards down the lens of my 20’s, disappointed in myself for getting lost. The magnitude of some of my moments - turning 30. Losing 50 pounds. Traveling, learning to run, taking a trip to Africa. It doesn’t get too personal, but it is all there, in a lightly sketched outline.
I think of time passing as monumental when grouped in bursts of four years. This is a holdover from high school and college, I’m sure - two neat sets of four years that signify major change. With a clear beginning, middle, and end, all laced through with expected growth and development.
Adult life doesn’t work that way, which is disorienting after the structure of a school system. The years start to blend and fade. When you’re young, you remember things with easy tags - in seventh grade, I was in that play. Freshman year of high school, I met that guy. Junior year, I went on that trip. Sophomore year of college, I moved away.
In adult life it’s foggy. How old was I when my first friend got married? When I moved into my first apartment, or my second, or my third? When I started that job, left that other job, decided to get married?
The last four years, though, I am going to remember with clarity. Some years are like that - full of change and color. So bright they pop. The kind I’ll remember, I’m sure, when I’m old and tired and looking back down the crooked path of my life. These were the years when something changed.
What had gone wrong, in my 20’s? I stopped paying attention to myself, I think. I got caught up in life’s drift, instead of plotting my own course consciously.
What went wrong, in the last few years? Pretty much everything, on the surface. But things have also gone right. I’ve traveled around the planet and been astonished at the things I’ve seen. I’ve made the kind of friends a person doesn’t forget, or re-connected with old ones, never forgotten either. I’ve grown into the depths of a marriage. i’ve had blistering, sickening, nauseating fights. I’ve made up. Then I’ve done it again. I’ve screamed and cried and thrown things, sobbed and begged, changed, altered. I’ve learned to speak clearly, in short honest sentences. I’ve learned to love through hardship. I’ve learned to live without a map, and to fall asleep without peace, and to live without clarity, but to realize it won’t break me.
I’ve realized that I want to learn to write, and then begun to really do it. I’ve sat in a dorm room at a school up north, quiet, with a notebook in my lap, and stared out of a window. I’ve lost 20 more pounds. I’ve taught myself to run for hours without stopping. To lift weights. To buy dresses and bikinis. To enjoy my body instead of hate it. To utilize it instead of hide from it. To sweat, for the love of it.
I’ve listened to music, read mountains of poetry, my first Hemingway, my first Edith Wharton, my first of everything, it seems.
I made a friend. And then I lost him. I made other friends, and kept them. Old ones came back to me, new ones appeared in the smoke. I learned to discern the good from the bad, and to do the work required to keep them close.
Four years ago, I was sad and disconnected in a low-key way. I didnt feel much of anything.
In the past four years I have felt inordinate, undeserved, unrealistic joy. I’ve also felt loss, and for the first time in my life, been ashamed. I’ve been truly frightened. Truly blessed. Deeply in love, and deeply heartbroken, elastic with heartache and happiness. Sometimes all at once.
Time is measured in years, but sometimes I think it should be measured, instead, in magnitude of events. I had no idea when I began this blog at 29 who I would become by the time I turned 33. Every piece of my life shifted course. I feel more like myself now than I have since I was 17 and dreamy, sitting on my bed in my childhood bedroom, singing along to a mixed tape and writing bad poetry before popping in the car to drive down a dark highway to hang out with my friends.
My friends. The witnesses to my small, quiet life. And I, the witness to theirs. I would do anything for them, for the small handful who count. My lifeboat friends, my sinking-ship friends. The ones of my heart. Including letting them go, if that’s what they insist upon.
If this much happened in the past four years, it’s a mind-bender to think what might happen next. I keep growing older. I am tired, as of late. But I am interested to see where we all wind up. Where we all spin off next. What I’ll do; who I’ll become.
It’s nice, to write for no one. It’s something to help you remember. Much love to the writers of notebooks, for the keepers of secrets. To the ones who pay attention to the stories.
If you decide to look for beauty, you can find it everywhere.