monster vs. monster

better late
January 5, 2010, 1:36 pm
Filed under: thoughts

I spent the last day of 1999 at a skating rink. I had just turned thirteen and was halfway through the eighth grade, and you really couldn’t find a bigger dork if you tried. My choice music was a rollicking mix of Boyz 2 Men, Garbage, Tim McGraw and the hits played on Radio Disney. (I was, at least, developed enough to favor the older Backstreet Boys recordings over the newer more produced tracks and to take a disparaging stance toward N*Sync). My daily uniform consisted of a baggy sweatshirt and blue jeans from Ross (elastic waistband, anyone? How about elastic cuffs?) and when I wanted to dress it up I’d do the khaki cargoes and a sweater with a built-in shirt collar. So cool. I had the braces, the bad skin, the stringy hair and the love of math that make any pre-adolescent just really, truly, so popular. Of course, I thought I was awesome. High school would come soon enough and destroy my misled confidence, but I wish I could have held on to some of it a little longer, since it let me throw myself one hundred percent into everything I did. Brag about my clog dancing team? Yes, every day. Develop a crush on every skinny glasses-faced nerd in every honors class? Well obviously they were superior to the stupid flat-topped jocks who would probably never know how to calculate the limits of trigonomic functions. Spend New Year’s Eve at Skating Plus? Hells yes. So what I was surrounded by seven-year-olds? My classmates were mean, and seven-year-olds were fun to hang out with. Besides, Skating Plus had Slurpees.

It has been one long decade, and I feel like a completely different person from that weirdly confident, brutally awkward thirteen-year-old. This past year, especially, has brought changes that have shoved me, kicking and screaming, toward adulthood. I learned practical things I’d always wanted to know, I sang in a band, I took pictures. I made a place for myself, I rode around town on my bicycle feeling very much at home. Then I left that home and all of my friends and started out in a more or less foreign city. I quit my minimum-wage job to start on a career parth that I still haven’t quite realized I’m on. I began to see lives move on without me and made myself embrace that growth apart. I lost hold of a love, caught it back, and then lost it once more. I watched people dear to me lose a child and last week I lost a beloved friend, and I endured for months the difficult, awful, guilt-stricken process of mourning loss from the periphery of a life.

It has been a good year and a tough year, a year full of changes and smiles and tears, and the somber note it ended upon left me reflecting on what I’ve done and who I’ve been in the last ten years and who I want to be in the next. I want to be a person who values life, who pays tribute to life. I want to be a person who looks back on the people I’ve known and says, “You were a presence in my life and I in yours, and I am grateful for what we had, and I have grown because of you, and I regret nothing.” I want to cherish the people I know. And I want to be kind. More than anything I want to be kind. And so, as always just a little bit late, I move into the next phase of my life a little bit sad, a little bit scared,  hoping to live up to my own expectations of who I think I might be able to be. Maybe I’ll throw on some khakis and take myself roller skating, for a start.


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