All the things I did as a teenager I remember so well and they are all the things that have seemed to stick to me as I get older. My favourite band in high school is still my favourite band now. My favourite writers are still my favourite. The movies that affected me most, still affect me. Teenage years are like this strange time-trap where emotions and personal preferences are formed and harden, somewhere in our minds and our souls, to remain forever unchanged throughout the rest of our lives. It is both terrifying and hilarious to realize this. But also soothing to be able to put on Disintegration and feel the way I felt when I was 17: untouchable and limitless.
I think it’s because when we are young, everything is infinite, and we are invincible. Time goes by slow; summers last forever as we experience a myriad of firsts—first broken bone, first crush, first album purchase, first kiss, first job, first concert, first love. We think time moves slow because it moves for us, when we let it. But then more time passes and we realize time is moving now without our permission. We’re doing the things we’ve always done, experiencing everything for the hundredth time. And it turns out we’re not invincible. In realizing this there is a great fear, and a great comfort. We are no longer the first of anything, but we will also never be alone. The amount of things we can experience for the first time dwindles, but we can also share more with others. I am afraid of not being first, but I am relieved that no one needs me to be.
All the things I do now. seem less important and more crammed together. One thing after another to get done, or accomplish, or just get through. There are new bands, writers, and movies, but I tend to move around them instead of through them. The way I’m describing it makes it seem as though there are fewer emotions involved in how my adult years are progressing, but I think it’s more a matter of how those same emotions are processed: quietly and with restraint.
I am both happier and sadder now than I was when I was first discovering The Cure and Joyce Carol Oates. I am more comfortable with forgiving myself for the choices I’ve made, but much more uncomfortable with the general shittiness of the whole world. I find it easier to genuinely enjoy things and certain people, while finding it difficult to hope for a successful future (for both myself and this shitty world). I am happy that I have become better at expressing myself and communicating, but sad that I’ve become more afraid of doing it.
Going forward to a future version of myself and asking her if she is still both happy and sad, if she is still afraid of not being first, or if she still loves listening to Disintegration; or alternatively, going back to my teenage self and assuring her she will always value these firsts, strengthen her against future fears, or warn her about the impending magnification of world shittiness would require me believing that either the past can be changed or the future can be predicted and neither of these things can happen.
I’ve been thinking recently of switching to the funeral services industry and as a result, I’ve been reading about/learning about/thinking about death more than I usually do and I keep playing this scene over in my head. I’m in a hypothetical interview for a position with a funeral home and I’m asked the question, “What do you believe happens to you when you die?” And I reply, without hesitation, “Nothing happens when you die. You’re just dead.”