Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grasping for Bits of Myself.

I've been feeling nostalgic lately. The majority of things I've written lately have been about the bittersweet work of reconciling an old me and a new me. I found myself referring to a younger me as her. Separate, like a little sister.

Lately, I've been pestered with a dream to be her again. I've been thinking about high school--just let me go back and do it again! It was suddenly painful to not be near Kristin and Hannah and Emma, complaining about our homework, writing haikus, and making mix cds. 

Last night, I was talking to Emily, and my heart softened, remembering a time when we would talk every evening about our heartbreak. It made our voices quieter and kinder, made us find solace in songs, and made our friendship vital to us. Strangely, I wanted to go back to that time, when the air always hummed with meaning.

I've been thinking about my college years of studying Greek, doing my homework at 5 am, coming to love my classmates as comrades, admiring my professors for such different reasons.

I've been thinking about my 21-year-old self, kind and interested, able to look others in the eye and talk to them and listen to them. At parties, floating from one person to the next, spurred on by my quest to love as many people as deeply as possible.

All this matters, and it matters because it means something has changed. For a year, I've had near constant depression. I thought it would go away, but it didn't. Just a few weeks ago, I realized that I had an untreated illness that I was letting steer my life. I started taking medication to help.

And, in response, this beautiful nostalgia. Not only have I regained interest in writing, politics, and schoolwork, but also, as the dismal fog has lifted, in myself. I think my nostalgia is my way of grasping for bits of myself, reacquainting myself with who I was, reminding myself of who I am.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

You don't have to take my word for it.

Dear Rachel of February 21, 2011,


Today, you sat down at your desk after a lovely Presidents Day and started a blog. I'm coming at you from 5 years in the future to tell you that you did a good thing today. That moment you hit Publish actually probably changed your life.

I know that you're wondering what's going to happen to you this summer. It's going to be better than you could have dreamed of, and you'll come out of it a new woman. Listen, give it time. You're going to make more friends and be more popular and feel more love than you can imagine. You're going to make up silly songs, go to dinner, climb mountains, go swimming, and a hundred other great things.

You're going to write things that people will like. Sometimes even strangers. That's important. 

You're going to cry and go down roads you never dreamed of. They're not the wrong road, as long as you keep walking.

I've been thinking about you a lot lately. You, in particular. The Rachel at this moment: February 21, 2011. The things you hope for are not going to happen. I can't stress that enough. The things you hope for are not going to happen. Other things are going to happen. I've been through what you're going through, so I can tell you that.

I envy you, in a way. You're thinner, you're in a history of jazz class, and your questions are simpler to answer. But I think if you got to know me, you'd envy me too. You're so different from me, in a way. I think what you have now is right for you, and what I have now is right for me. 

2 Pieces of Advice:
1. Be okay with not knowing. Don't scramble so desperately to be sure. Be so okay with it that not knowing can never trip you.

2. Be more alive. Leave your house. Being afraid is going to ruin your life more than the things you're afraid of.

I know you don't like taking or giving advice. That much hasn't changed. So I understand. You don't have to take my word for it.

Love,
Rachel of February 21, 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Strange Closeness

I live in a townhouse, and I feel a strange closeness with the boy I share a bedroom wall with. I don't know him, what he looks like, his name, whether it was his sports car I tapped when I was backed out the other day or one of his roommates'.

But I hear him listening to music. I hear when he laughs out loud when he's watching tv alone on weekend nights. The other night, I couldn't sleep, and I swear I could hear him snoring.

It did, in a way, make sense.

Once there was a boy. We were friends. Not best friends, but I think we were fond of each other.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about dating him. Not daydreaming about it or wanting it to happen, but analyzing it. What if we tried dating each other? Is that crazy?

There was reason to believe that it was possible. I was attracted to him for sure. When I ran into him unexpectedly, I breathed in sharply and my stomach dropped. It was always a startling, pleasant surprise to remember how handsome he was. When he showed up somewhere I was, I smiled instinctively and sometimes felt my face flush. I was happy.

But he and I were different, in a way that I knew we could never be. That made the always-happy-to-see-him phenomenon just a fluke, of course. Or a reality that had to exist alone in space. We could talk about our differences and maintain our mutual respect, but that couldn't change the fact that we saw things so differently.

There was someone I wanted to set him up with: me, from four years earlier. Yes, that was it. The me from three years earlier might have already missed her window. But the me from four years ago was more like him, and less opposed to any differences we might have. The me now was almost worlds away, but, at the same time, not so far that the me from four years ago didn't break through when I unexpectedly saw his surprisingly handsome face.

And that's why I couldn't stop thinking about it. Because as much as it didn't make sense, it did, in a way, make sense.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Air Pollution.

Today is the fourth day of the valley being coated in fog. Not some romantic fog covering a mountain road in the dead of night. A terrifying fog you wake up to, and go to sleep to, and wake up to again.

It feels like an apocalypse. An insidious one, where you gape at everyone walking around like nothing is wrong, and only you can see the looming terror. Can they see it? Is it just me? Why are there still people going running outside? Why aren't we packing up our station wagons with soylent green and heading for the hills?

Yesterday, as I was driving home from work, the fog was thin enough that I could see the sun blazing through. It was strange to be able to stare at its perfect, brilliant circle without it burning my eyes, and equally strange to remember that there's a real sun behind there--same one there's always been. It looked more like the horizon of some strange Star Wars moon, where life has been bleak for so long that no one seems to notice the bleakness anymore.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Never look at the internet in the morning.

You should never look at the internet in the morning. Wake up, open the window, read a holy book, drink juice out of the bottle, take a shower, watch a sitcom while you do your hair. Don't look at the internet.

When you look at the internet in the morning, you will always find something that ruins your day. There's something about lying in bed and seeing something shocking on your tiny phone screen that can really mess up a life.

Today, I found out that a boy I'd had an internet crush got married while I wasn't looking.


Just withhold your judgment for a second, okay? This did not ruin my day. But it changed my day for sure.

I don't know why I was surprised. It's been years since I thought about him. When I was 19, I found him, the brother of a guy I kind of knew. He lived in a different state and went to an interesting college. He looked smart and nice. I knew we would be perfect for each other.

Today, as I scrolled through his profile pictures, there was a moment when I started to recognize them from before. And I realized that everything I'd just been looking at hadn't even happened yet the last time I stalked him. And it was like my 19-year-old self and my 24-year-old self were two different people, girl talking about this turn of events, me-now consoling me-then and saying wisely, "You never know what the next 5 years will bring."

The only moral of this story is never look at the internet in the morning. There's no reason to have an existential crisis before 7 am.
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