“I feel like I blinked and the last three years disappeared.”
I say it, and I’m instantly relieved. Finally, I’ve put words to this uncomfortable feeling I’ve been having – the muddled years in my mind. Each time I pull up a memory, I have to remind myself, count backwards on my fingers, to figure out when it happened.
I blinked, and I’m 27, still living the life I had at 24.
I blinked, and I am approaching 30 and still financially dependent on my parents.
I blinked, and four years have passed since I finished college, and I am still lonely and anxious and unsure.
I blinked, and it’s 2015, and I haven’t done anything I thought I would do.
K reclines, inspects my face as all these thoughts shuffle and reshuffle themselves in my head. She says what everyone says. “You know, it’s a different world now than it was 30 years ago.”
And of course, she is right. Everything costs more, the economy tanked, technology has drastically altered the course and content of our lives. Nothing is what it was. Nothing is what we expected it to be. I was born in a moment of relative calm in the world – calm and privacy and mostly peace and economic prosperity. The past 30 years have been tumultuous; nobody prepared us for this world. Nobody was prepared for this world.
Nonetheless, there is a niggling strand of doubt I cannot shake. If I were different, this would be OK. If I were the kind of person who was good with people. If I were less shy and sensitive and insecure and more interesting and bubbly and industrious. If I were able to do more with everything I’ve been given. If only. There’s nothing else to say on this, nothing I haven’t thought about before. You can’t will away the person you are.
K tells me to stop thinking I don’t deserve the opportunities I have been given. There are things we cannot control – privilege is one of them. Just because someone else is deserving of opportunities, it doesn’t mean that I am not.
I can’t quite make myself agree. As time passes, I find myself coming back to this idea and trying harder to be better, to be deserving.
We’ve come to the end of our conversation. (More time that seems to have rushed past me in a blink.) I leave. Outside, it’s dusk, and the lampposts flash on as I walk home in the almost-dark. I try to see the pools of light and not the spaces between. I try to be present in each footstep, to resist the panic in my mind from internal clocks and calendars. I can’t keep focusing on wasted time. It’s a false notion, anyway -“wasted” time. What should you be doing with it? Who’s to say? Even as I think it, I am lamenting the minutes passing – can’t help feeling I’m lost in my own life, drifting in and out of consciousness. I don’t know where the years have gone, let alone the minutes and the hours.
I blink, and I am waking up on a morning five years from today, and things look different but exactly the same. There’s something I’m forgetting, something I should be doing, something that got lost along the way. Many things, probably. How does the time keep disappearing like this? How do I keep forgetting to make my life? I am so busy going through the motions, I have forgotten to hit “record” on the little moments that build a film reel worth re-watching.