How fast and slow it goes

Another Thanksgiving in Maine has gone by, and here I am, still in the same apartment I decided to rent after I graduated college over two years ago. I wonder where I’ll be this time next year.

It’s funny; there are times where I get so worried about the future that I can’t function, and others where I just can’t get worked up or care at all. While reminiscing and discussing life so far, a few aunts told me to be prepared for life to fly by. Their youth feels like just yesterday to them. Which is odd, because more often than not, I feel like I’m a million years old already. I’m a different person every thirty seconds.

We watched unearthed home videos taken by my cousin in 2000. I was eight then, she was thirteen. For further perspective, she has a doctorate in physical therapy and just had her second child, and I’ve yet to register my car in my own name. Anyway, the videos themselves were pretty funny, showing typical scenes into our childhood Christmases and gatherings at my grandmother’s house when she was alive.

I barely recognized myself in them. It was before I had completed the wall around myself to keep others out, and I still acted genuinely with no fear. I’m sure most people my age or older feel like 2000 was yesterday, and to an extent, I do too. But those videos made me feel ancient. I’ve been countless identities inside my own head and have gone through so many difficulties since it was taken, and I’m a shell of my former self.

A strategy we tried out in therapy was acting out a conversation between me and my younger self. It’s always hard. That little girl is in me somewhere, I think — hopefully safe and happy and following  her imagination and playing games in a sunny room at the top of tower in my mind palace. But she’s not manning the controls anymore. I’d like to think she’s finally sheltered away from all of the judgment and bitterness that define life outside.

Time’s a funny thing. On the one hand it often feels linear, as straight and quick like a train on a high-speed rail. But then sometimes I get lost thinking about the cyclicality of it all and how many possibilities are out there. There could be a billion different timelines with me in them right now, and that’s sort of comforting. Life might be better in some of them, and a lot worse in still more. And it’s funny to think about being able to hop away from on timeline to another for some perspective. Maybe examine your potential life at age 82 for a second. How small everything would look from there.

That’s one of the reasons I’d kill to see the world from space — that’s about as close as you can get to viewing all of the Earth’s timelines happening at once. In space, what’s linearity? There’s no start and no end there, so you don’t ever feel like you’re running out of time. Well, this is complicated by the basic finality of the human existence, but it helps me deal with life sometimes.

The last month has felt like a lifetime. From the moment I got on a plane to Vietnam, things seemed to slow down, and the election just… upended the whole machine. I feel like I really am in an alternate reality (more so than usual, anyway). And in a very, very odd way, it’s made me relax in a way I’ve been unable to for years (can you tell I’m white?). Life looks really different from this side of November 8th. There’s no “normal” anymore. In most ways, that’s not a good thing for just about everyone except for white, straight men, but I do feel like I’ve finally gotten some permission to throw caution to the winds out of sheer desperation at this point.

These next few months will be my last in terms of following the old Maine routine. Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, Christmas is here, and yet the world is turning upside down. I didn’t think I’d stay in Maine this long after graduation, but I think it’s been helpful for developing much needed mindfulness. I did kind of hope I’d fall in love before the age of 25, but I suppose there’s technically 6 months left — and anything can happen these days.

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