Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Change? I Got Your Change.

I had about, oh, 15 different ideas for a blog post. Something about current events, my eyes glossing over from watching the Olympics, the weird insanity of hosting a garage sale for the first time as an adult. But then I stumbled across an old journal of mine from 1993 as I was packing boxes and I found myself intoxicated by the sheer horror of reminding myself what it was like in my mind 17 years ago.

As time seems to speed up the older I get (my mother was right!), I actually don't take much time to look back anymore. I am not that nostalgic. I am more than happy that I am not that awkward, fey kid who was busy getting harassed and thinking that there was not much chance of being authentically happy. I am not even particularly nostalgic for pop culture moments from my youth, save some of the music.

Young adulthood, however, was somehow different in my mind. I would pine for it occasionally, remembering the feeling of freedom I would get at moments in college, the feeling of my mind opening up, the sense that I was searching for what mattered to me.

Re-reading parts of my life as I narrated them in this particular journal in my hands, I had to rethink that view of my life then. My life on these college-ruled, spiral-bound pages was small, intense, and, too often, sad. I didn't seem to record anything but that which freaked me out, made me self-hating, unsure, nervous, and despondent. Looking at this portrait of myself in 1993, I marveled at the fact that I was still alive. There was nothing positive in the way I told my own story. Nothing at all. I was sad for myself.

In a way, of course, it was all fiction. There were good people in my life--friends and teachers who wanted me to succeed. So why couldn't I believe it? Well, that, in itself, is a boring book I will not ask you to read (now). But in that moment of realization was the calming flood of thinking that everything happening right now, in 2010, was so far removed from what was scrawled across those notebooks.

I, and many people I know right now, are in the midst of a huge amount of change. I am up to seven friends who have, are, or will be leaving Los Angeles to move elsewhere. Some of us have new jobs. Some of us have lost them. We are moving, making plans, being forced to reassess our lives. In so many ways, it's exactly what we wanted. 2009 felt like a year of being held hostage, of hedging bets, of being afraid to do anything. It seems to make sense that now the energy would be propelled forward. The tangents its taken in all of our lives has been something to behold, even when I am not necessarily happy about where it takes some of us.

To be sure, it's not all "positive." I have just as often been confronted with friends who are losing loved ones, of my own family in flux, of uncertainty surrounding what comes next. I still find myself nervous and anxious here and there. But it's not 1993. I am so much more mentally equipped to deal with all of it. I am, simply, so much happier. With me. With everything. In fact, the challenge right now of figuring out what I will do next--of watching my friends do the same--is something I embrace. I shy away from it some weeks. I sidestep it some days. But then, when I roll up my sleeves to sit down and take action, I feel like it's good work. It's honest. It's meant to be.

I will remind myself of that in the coming weeks and months, as I pack up my current life in boxes to move it across town. As I learn how to garden in my new yard. As I say goodbye to more friends. As I help others figure out what's next for them. Perhaps instead of throwing away those painful slices of my past self, I should simply keep them in better eyesight.