Over and Over
Some days ago, a boy I used to date as a wee teenager (yes, a boy!) reached out to me on Facebook. It’s funny where we are now: he’s now a hotshot international banker, I’m now an international vagrant (I don’t really know how else to describe myself), instead of the awkward, school-uniformed boy and girl we once were. I found this episode especially funny because (1) I used to date boys! Which amuses me (2) exactly 14 years have passed since we used to ‘go out’; we were 14 when we started going out. These days I am more acutely aware of how much older I am getting, and the fact that Class 95 now plays the songs I grew up with when they play “the classics” doesn’t make it any better. In a couple of days we’ll probably meet for steak and wine with some mutual friends. He’s found some photos of us, circa 1999, and thinks it will be funny to laugh at our younger, hotter selves.
Everyone’s getting married. Well, not everyone, but… lots of people are. In a couple of weeks my best friend D will walk down the aisle with a really lovely boy, and I will try not to burst out of the tiny green dress I am supposed to wear. The one I still haven’t bought. Everything changes, but nothing does — she’s still more mature, more put together, more likely to worry about her friend who has been all over the place since we met as adolescents. I’ve read a lot about what ‘growing up’ is supposed to mean — the only consistent point everyone’s made is, the older you get the less of a flying fuck you give, and you just have your key group of friends who stick by you no matter what.
At the time of writing, D’s just texted to slightly threaten emphasize the urgent need for me to do something about my hair so that it isn’t in my face in all of her wedding photos, which I actually think was a scenario we must have discussed ten years ago. “YOUR HAIR AH." My hair.
My hair does get in the way.
I just downloaded one of those time machine apps which scour your social media networks to show you what you were up to a year, two years, three years ago. It tells me I was staring at a giant fake swan in Hungary, with these Hungarian and Czech developers. We were building something in a house by a lake. We may have gotten a slight case of cabin fever. We went swimming, paddling, and we found a giant swan which was also a boat. We christened her Gloria.
The exact circumstances which got me to this very moment are meandering, long-winded ones. It began in south India, in an autorickshaw, and then to Kuala Lumpur, Bombay, and then to hospitals in Singapore, then to northern Europe, then to KL, Singapore, and then finally to Zamárdi and to this swan we called Gloria.
They were fun times. They taught me that never again should I allow myself to be photographed in a half-wet t-shirt, anywhere in the world.
I am acutely aware of just how much change there’s been in my life in the past 70+ weeks. I’ve switched entire cities and countries. I haven’t been able to keep myself grounded, in the physical and mental and personal and professional sense. Beyond the appearances of someone who’s ‘got it figured out’, I’m really grappling with the basic questions I never did have to answer before. Where do I want to live? What do I want to achieve? How should I get there?
For the most part, I am ‘home’ now. The home that I left was the city I was born and brought up in; the home that I came home to late last year, is the one I prefer. It is also the city I now pay rent in. Last week I went up onstage at FORK4 and gave a little talk about my side projects. I met all these incredible people doing great projects, like Dream Syntax, State of Buildings, Another Beautiful Story, and more. A few days later, I went to Pizza X II, the second instalment of a back alley artisan party, with great food and drinks (Spit roast! Karelian pastries! Artisan rum and new growth wines!) and some of the best people in this island.
At times I wonder if I made a mistake when I made the call to stay, but most of the time I am surer than ever that I made the right decision to come home. Because I just haven’t been home for a while and I needed to be.
I’m writing. I’m dating. One of those is coming along better than the other. At least writing is free. When it comes to dating, and the occasionally terrible, mostly funny in hindsight moments I’ve had in that field, I am reminded of how one of the smartest people who ever lived once defined insanity to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Without going into too much detail: I am done with that.
I am writing a whole lot more, trying to follow some kind of writerly routine. It is working.
When I opened Reminders.app, an app I never use, I found the one Reminder I had on it: remember to tell doc about my memory loss problem. I never remembered to. Something about it captured how weird and heartbreaking that entire period of my life was. The fear of not knowing what was happening to my body or to my mind. The inability to control anything about where my life was going. The heartbreak of losing everything I had. Everything at once. The seeming insanity of having chosen to lose those things of my own accord, but nothing really was.
Life got better, but it will never be the same again. I don’t want it to, but I don’t want to lose it all again, again. I don’t think I will. That would be insane.