Saturday, January 9, 2010
It was only a few weeks ago that I realized a new decade is upon us; in the time leading up to new year's eve every media outlet was stringing together footage from the last ten years, trying to spin some sort of compact statement out of it. I'm really not sure what to think about my last decade, life has been a blur.
Ten years ago I was living in Brooklyn in my first apartment, waking up every morning with a feeling awe and wonder, working at my first real job (in the first field I abandoned), and despite being very shy and still somewhat sheltered, was nonetheless enjoying my youthfulness in a great city and having a lot of wonderful, casual sex.
In the coming decade I would go onto move on to a career in publishing, then abandon it and NYC to move to Alaska (?!) for a graduate degree that I wasn't even sure I wanted.
Three years later, I left the north for good (maybe? probably?) for California, married, lost a parent and... well, here I am. I can honestly say I don't have much to show for the last ten years of my life, although I also have few regrets. Most of my regrets involve not taking advantage of this, or not enjoying that while I had it -- time and opportunities squandered. I'd like to think I'm improving on such bad habits, but it will probably take another decade or so to determine this for sure.
Maybe because it's past 4:00 in the morning and I'm recovering from a nasty head cold, and maybe because my brain is a little squishy, I'm feeling neither hopeful or apoplectic about the next ten years. I used to enjoy aging, but hitting thirty has dampened my enthusiasm some. I don't think about my own death very often and certainly do not fear it, but I have been wondering if I'll accomplish anything worthwhile during my stay on this planet. I'm not spiritual, so I don't assume that there's an afterlife or that I'll return to earth in another form -- I'm pretty sure this is my only trip around the block and lately Time has been on my mind. I feel rushed to do something with myself, but can't seem to decided what that something should be, beyond cleaning my kitchen, writing a new poem, brewing some tea.
I used to make new years resolutions, but wisely gave that practice up years ago -- it's too much pressure to put on oneself. I have expectations for myself, but they having nothing to do with the turning of a few calendar pages. I've spent what seems like the last year and half drifting through my life.
Actually, trudging would be a better word for it.
I have my reasons for this listlessness: depression, health problems, a lackluster career, etc. But as a result, I'm coming to understand that this behavior, these woes, have kept me from my life and allowed me to retreat into my own head space. That was okay back when I was biding my time in public school, waiting for college, waiting to escape my miserable hometown and be my own person, but it's not how an adult who has full control over her life should behave. Especially one with a husband.
So, this relatively arbitrary thing we call "the new year" is a pretty good excuse to reassess my path of slow self-destruction and clear my head a bit. I spent the new year holiday in Alaska, visiting friends and feeling nostalgic for a bygone time that wasn't so long ago, but feels many lifetimes away. Part of me desperately wishes I could go back; things seem more simple and casual there. No one in Alaska talks about botox injections, traffic jams or personal hygiene standards; there is less of everything and community really means something because without it you'd probably die, one way or another. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to romanticize Alaska -- everyone does before they get there and quickly finds their illusions shattered; that's not what I'm getting at. What I miss about there is mollified by what I do have and value here. What this place lacks in community it makes up for in ease: endless choices, burritos, indoor plumbing, higher wages, and overall convenience. It's like comparing apples to motor oil.
I flew home last week with a head cold, definitely missing the people up there, wishing for more time with them, but also eager, for the first time in a long time, to get back into my life. I wasn't returning after a week away, but several years away from my own life.
What's next, you may ask? I don't know. But a warm bed, filled with my warm husband is waiting for me and when I wake up a cup of tea will coax me out of bed. There are poems to write, dishes to wash and, with any luck, I'll be there to do them.