Tuesday, July 28, 2015

teenage wasteland

hello! sorry for the radio silence, it's been a busy month (but in an awesome and productive way).

although i'm going to publish this blog post once i'm back in toronto on tuesday and can organize pics & formatting for the post, i'm writing this as my final dispatch from the family home in kingston, which was actually just sold a few days ago after a month on the market. my mother told me the good news almost as soon as i got off the train on friday. so that just kicked off the beginning flurry of packing up, because not only did they sell the house (they've already purchased the new one), but they're moving out at the end of august. sounds like a lot of time, sure, but there's a ton of stuff packed into that small suburban mansion. the basement/rec room's almost all packed right now, actually. weirdness.

anyway, i'm here because i was asked to come home to go through what remains of my old belongings, to see if there's anything i'd like to "keep" (aka go into storage at my dad's, which will one day go into storage at my place, once i can finagle a ride from kingston to toronto). like i said before, i consistently lived here during my teenage years - 1996 to 2002, one last year of elementary school plus all of high school before i pulled up stakes and ran to toronto - so there was apparently still quite a bit of my teenage stuff hanging around in boxes and bags.

here's some of what i found:
  • i was way more into traditionally girly things than i remembered (or would like to admit, really). lots of rainbow, unicorns, flowers, kitties, and dragons. eeeeeesh.
  • there was an entire box of my teenage writing journals and diaries. i took one look and instructed my mother to burn the box.
  • it's actually a bit sad to go through a couple bags of your old stuffed animals that you used to love the shit out of and realize that they mean so little to you now. (i still grabbed my first favourite stuffie, an ancient, ugly cat hand puppet that's missing almost all its fur because i used to carry it everywhere with me)
  • looking over my old sketchbooks was weird. i remember trying to make a go at being an artist when i was a kid, and i could have probably worked at what i had, but in the end i just didn't feel like i was good enough. oh, well.
  • i found a box full of ribbons, medals, trophies and certificates. like, just full of the stuff. and i swear to christ, i can barely remember winning any of it. there were awards in there for poems and essays, art, public speaking, track and field, basketball, baseball, karate, and more. sure, a lot of it was "participant!" garbage, but as i asked my mom -- "was i like, a kid genius or something? and where did that go?" (i also found a plaque for a schoolwide english award that i won in grade 11 and which i have zero recollection of winning, but it's kind of funny how well it predicted my adult career. as my mom said, "i'm not sure your teachers knew what to do with you, and just how well you could write.")
it's kind of an interesting point that i later remarked on to my stepdad: by all accounts, as a kid, i was good at a lot of things, but not amazing at one thing. jack of all trades, master of none. so would it have been better for me to have found one true love and stuck with it, worked on it and made it into a real talent, instead of spreading myself out through all these hobbies? but then, as he pointed out, that's sort of what you do when you're young -- try a bunch of different things and see what sticks. i just kind of wish i'd found something then instead of trying to blindly scrabble for useful (read: profitable) hobbies/talents now.

(i guess you can look back on it and note that the large majority of my accolades were for writing, then make the conclusion that i did nurture one big talent after all, but i'm greedy and i want to be able to do more.)

at the end of the day, i didn't end up putting a lot of stuff aside to put into storage or take back to toronto -- just a few books, my university diploma and photos, a cat-shaped wind chime, and a stuffed penguin that waddles along the floor playing marching music (don't ask). i also did some scavenging for things for sean's apartment, and came up with a queen set of sheets for his new bed, a ridiculously massive bath towel, a beer stein, and a wine glass for me. goddamn if i didn't wish i lived closer to kingston so i could steal more stuff before it goes to yard sales or the trash, but that would mean i'd live in like, trenton or something, and no thanks.

my mom also unearthed this photo of very tiny eight-year-old me as a brownie in 1992. (the brownies were the precursor to girl guides, or girl scouts as americans would know them.) as i quoted on tumblr, we also had this exchange: "i kind of hated doing it, you know." "well, you hated doing a lot of things." "that's awesome because i hate doing a lot of things now." some things never change.

oh, and i decided i'd be remiss if i didn't go for one last dip in the family pool, though it was almost a joke considering that i'd swam in the pool a grand total of like four times since we moved in 1996:

kept the lipstick on because why not.

but then i actually had a tiny cry as i lay in bed on my last morning in this house, thinking about how it had always been the place i went to during my turbulent twenties, when i had no idea how to deal with what was going on in my "adult" life in the big city. this place had been my way station between adventures in different cities, where i came back to when i felt like i had nowhere else to go. and it made me think about how time is fleeting, and how things can and do change without there being anything you can do about it. that's just how life is. but it can be a scary thing, if you think about it too much.

i think about the time many people have in their twenties, when you're convinced you're going to be an exception to the rule. you're never going to age, your parents are never going to die, your friends will always be around, and your childhood home will forever be there for you to return to. you think it's going to be like this for you forever and you can't imagine a time when it won't be.

and for me personally, this is probably one of my biggest hang-ups. i've never gotten over the fact that i'm not an exception. that's why my turning 30 was so tough for me - it was my first realization that life does move forward for me, and that there's no going back, and someday everything i know will be gone. (nobody who i've been close to has died yet, but if they had i would probably be speaking differently, here.)

i can't explain how or why i ever thought i'd be able to freeze time, and like, i've never been delusional; i just didn't think it would happen to me, somehow. but all of a sudden i'm noticing my metabolism slowing and small wrinkles around my eyes and a few gray hairs coming in, and my parents sold the family home, and i feel weirdly betrayed by my 22-year-old self, who thought she'd be 22 forever and with a home she would always know. she thought she could make time stay like this forever, somehow -- or, at the very least, oh i know that life will change, but not quite yet, i still have time. but then one day you wake up and realize that that time is now, and a lot of things, as you knew them, are gone.

[ music | halsey, "hurricane" ]