Past and present

I'm potentially going to completely embarrass myself here, but I've been rereading old journals as "research" for my newest project and find myself alternately vaguely impressed and vaguely mortified by my 16-year-old self. I had to keep a notebook for English class where I was required to write for about 15 minutes every night during my sophomore year, and it's interesting how open I managed to be within the framework, given that I knew my teacher would be reading my entries. When I write about my life and stick with stream-of-consciousness I find the pages holding my interest (though only most likely because it's about myself, not because it's inherently any good...). But where I decide to delve into fiction it's wretched. My stories are overwrought, trying too hard, flowery, and sadly seem to be attempting a paltry imitation of some sort of Nabokovian voice that doesn't suit me.

The reason I mention all this is because there are a fair amount of pages that touch on my future, and I find myself reaching back through the last 20 (20?!) years trying to remember what it felt like to be a teenager, to not know the bulk of what was coming formatively: who I would marry, where I would live, how many children I would have (if any). I recall it being scary to wonder how it would all play out, while simultaneously not being able to grasp the reality of what it meant to be an adult.

I can only remember being that age abstractly--though in many ways my teenage voice on the page is not so different from the voice I use in my current journals. Frankly it's a bit scary to see how much I resemble myself, if that makes sense--the ideas I ponder that I think are so original to the present day are in many cases just rehashed bits I've been going over again and again, apparently for years on end. Why is the capacity for memory so selective? With how much I think I've actually changed over time my personality, for all its growth, has in most respects remained fairly fixed. I do find that in this journal I'm less pessimistic than I recall being, though I was certainly cynical (weren't we all at that age) and as over analytical as I am now. Long story short, behold my desires for my future, and hold them up to my current state based on whatever past entries you may have read here on the blog (and please try not to laugh):

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, but I don't know how I can make a living from it. I guess when I was young I figured I'd just find some rich guy, fall in love, get married and then I'd be fine. But that's kid stuff. The first thing I want to do is get married to a great guy (not a rich one). Then I want a job I love, in art, or writing, or something creative. I don't know if I want to have children or not--I mean, I do, but there's such a loss of freedom. I guess I'll wait until I'm in my 30s. Here I am planning my life and watch, everything I get will be the exact opposite of everything I want. 
Anyhow, last night I put Annie [my little sister who is 12 years younger than I am] to bed, she was being so cute. And I remembered how when she was very little and she would cry and cry I would to sing her to sleep. Then she got older and I probably haven't sung to her in about six months. So last night I just started singing "Hush little baby" and her eyes lit up. I said "do you remember that song?" and she said "uh-huh (yes) keep singing!" She made me sing it to her three times. She seemed peaceful, yet there was also a sadness behind her eyes, as if she was remembering something. Could she possibly recall how I used to sing to her in the dark, rocking her in the rocking chair when I was very upset? That's what I used to do for comfort. As she got older I thought she didn't care as much, but now I see she does and that makes me very, very happy. 
I've been singing "Hush little baby" to the girls since they were born, and I still do, so life really does maintain a certain trajectory. It appears I've gotten what I essentially wanted when I was sixteen, which is quite heartening I think.

So that's my trip down memory lane, thanks for indulging me. Now I think I'll go blush in the corner for a bit. Adieu.


JT said…
I love that. What a great memory.


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