It is strange how memories change their meaning depending on what you’ve experienced in the meantime.
I am reading the words of a former self, claiming that a week-long trip to Portland, OR, was proof that I could plan and budget a vacation, put myself out there and meet new people, and return home without missing it so hard that I claimed I ‘belonged’ there. I remember those feelings. I remember being so wrapped up in the idea that I didn’t belong where I was; I remember how it felt to learn about other places that weren’t home, either.
Now, when I look back on Portland, it’s a relationship thing. It’s painful. I went with an ex; we were still together when we planned it, but our time there was spent, as my former self puts it, “successfully in friendship.” Now, when I look back on Portland, I feel a sort of nostalgic longing. The only regrets I have are those that wouldn’t change my present condition anyway.
Like all those times I had to stay at a friend’s house when my car had died and I spent the entire time locked in my guestroom, thinking of leaving. I wasn’t writing or reading or playing games or occupying myself otherwise. I wasn’t enjoying the experience. I was in the room, unable completely to leave and mingle with parents or roommates until my friend returned home.
I used to write about my life and thoughts and ideas quite frequently, whether it was in a handwritten journal, online, or through e-newsletters that went out once or twice a month. Now I write long emails to single recipients and words are lost in the muck of everyday speech. Nothing comes out the way I want it to, and it’s all washed away by whatever imminent emotion one or the other of us is currently feeling. Or hunger. In America, we whine about hunger over email more than we’re aware of.
I wonder what Haruki Murakami does with email. Does he send his best friends five per day detailing everything he’s thinking and wondering about, or does he save those for fiction?
I used to self-identify as a writer, but when I left retail for the opportunity to sit in front of a computer all day with no work and every thought escaping into oblivion, I lost my penchant for writing. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I decided to tell everyone everything about myself.
Over the next few months, I’ll be posting words from six months to two years ago. These words meant something real to me when I was writing them, and I still see that person in them when I review now, but I don’t see myself. That’s something new to ponder, and write about some other time, perhaps.