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A good friend once told me you have to go backwards to go forwards.
And I do think a lot of the answers are in the past.
Or at least the perspective I craved.
Being somewhere I lived for 8 years, I kept expecting to run into younger versions of me. Like we all still coexist there.
And on some level we do.
The me that consulted in midtown, I almost glimpsed her through the glass doors in her white Mad Men-esque suit.
The me who commuted to Times Square every morning for 3 years, I traced her footsteps into the subway of Wall Street.
The me who first moved to the city in 2000, I swear she was just across the street in Grammercy. I almost waved.
Each place invokes a memory, a time past. A me that once existed as surely as this one does right now.
And each version had her strengths and weaknesses. But she was there. Marking time and living a life.
The greatest blessing was my trifecta of friends (A, Z, and B). In their eyes, I saw who I had been. Who I still was to them. Who I could be again.
Lately, I feel like I’m stuck. Waiting. Like I hit the pause button and my life hasn’t restarted yet.
I want it to. I’ve given two years to the dream of writing. At the expense of everything else in my life.
At the time, it felt necessary. Required to be become a better writer.
But now. Things are shifting inside me.
I want more.
It doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, but it means writing will be a priority. Not my only priority. And I think I’ll get closer to happy for it.
As I’m wrapping up the trip and heading back to NY and then CT, I thought a reblog might be nice. This is from 2010. Just something I was thinking about lately.
I don’t think I believe in forever.
I think I believe in for now.
Anyway, it seemed to fit my thoughts lately, so I dug this blog post out of my archives. It’s about how we change and dreams change. And somehow it all seems to work.
I sat in a lounge chair, watching the ocean slip away from the shore and I thought, “This is heaven. This is happiness.”
And I realized that I wanted this. To feel this calm and content.
I didn’t need anything else. In that moment, I was certain I could give up my writing. That I could be complete without it. That traveling could be my new passion.
I didn’t say a word to my friend. I just let that moment happen. It wasn’t a decision I made, but a decision I contemplated.
An option that never existed before in my mind.
So I let it linger there as I traveled.
And the traveling began to wear on me.
Getting pick-pocketed really rocked my center of gravity.
And the one thing that helped me make sense of it?
So those giving up moments–embrace them. They remind us that writing is a choice. An option. And deep down, a necessity.
Have you ever been madly, passionately, deeply in love with someone and then it ends? And you think that’s the worst thing that will ever happen to you… but you’re wrong. To add insult to injury, he uttered that phrase that’s guaranteed to push you over the edge: let’s be friends.
The tiny, insane part of you that is still in love with him grabs a hold of that, thinking you can keep him in your life. Hopefully, the logical side of you will override that, by saying, “hell, no! We can be mortal enemies from this day forward or you can cease to exist in my mind. Either way, it’s my choice.”
I’ve always wondered why we feel the need to utter that phrase, especially since 98% of the time we don’t mean it. Is it to stop the other person from having a public meltdown? Is it because they’re not quite sure they wanted to be out of your life? Or maybe it’s just in some handbook that I’ve never gotten.
Personally, I prefer it if we agreed to never speak to each other again and leave each other’s lives permanently.
What are your thoughts on this phrase? Do you really mean it when you say it?
I was sitting here thinking, what are my dreams for this week. To do well at the conference and to catch an agent’s interest. To meet another writer or five and click so we can have conversations about writing. Of course, this line of thought made me think back to my dreams as a 25-year-old. As a 20-year-old. All the way back to a seven-year-old. I can remember having all these dreams about the future.
Now sitting here, I can tell you most of them didn’t come true. I don’t live in a Newport Mansion with servants (age 8 dream) nor do I live in China (age 20 dream). Does that mean I gave up on my dreams? Or they gave up on me? I don’t think so. I think I changed and my dreams changed accordingly. I grew up and some dreams were outgrown.
But other dreams I saw through and made a reality. Which leaves me wondering why these and not those? Were they harder to achieve? Were they just plain unrealistic (at five I dreamed of being green)? Not sure. But I do know the dreams I realized defined me for a long time. And the dreams that fell by the wayside dropped off my radar pretty fast. So I have to think there was a reason for it. Or I’m really good at letting go of what I can’t have.
How have your dreams changed over the years? Which mean more to you–the ones achieved or the ones left behind?
If you’re asking this question, it probably ended a long time ago and you were just holding on because it hurts to say goodbye and let things go. Harsh? Yup. Valid? Probably.
I was looking through photo albums of the past 15 years and I’ve known some awesome people. I’ve had some deep meaningful friendships that I thought would sustain me for decades and I’ve had convenient friendships that I never expected to survive more than a few months. Most of the time, I was dead wrong in my predictions.
Unfortunately, relationships don’t come with expiration dates. We never know who will stay and who will leave. Who will evolve into someone we no longer care about. Who will surprise us with loyalty and depth we never expected.
I see pictures of people whose names I no longer know. Their faces are familiar and I can feel remnants of the emotions I felt for them, but I cannot tell you who they were or why they mattered. Because time marches on. So if people do not move forward with us, they tend to fade away over time.
A few days ago, I got an email from someone I still loved. We had been close friends in college and he always held a special place in my life. But he told me he determined that allocating time to me was a waste and he needed to build friendships where he lived, not with someone he didn’t see since he moved half way around the world. It stung.
Look, we all may think these things about efficiency and time allocation, but to say it to someone is rather cruel and shows a complete lack of feeling for that person. So I left. I ended what remained of a once beautiful friendship. My only regret is I should have walked away sooner. I held on and now I have these terrible memories of a person I have come to dislike. If I had let go and never tried to reach out, the past could have remained untainted. We could have had our unspoiled beautiful memories.
The simple fact is people change. We grow together or we grow apart. We love and we laugh and sometimes it stops. We can’t go back. We can’t make it work. Then comes the hardest part. Letting go. Like any death, it’s a blow. But it’s kinder to walk away with good memories than to linger and become bitter.
Sometimes, things need to be allowed to end. Standing in the middle of the road refusing to get out of the way is a bad idea. Like that old Bonny Raitt song says, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.”
How do you let go of old friends and people you loved?
My nervous energy continues. At times, I daydream about where I can move things. Like my mason jars. Don’t ask, it’s a long story. But I have to store them somewhere until I need them. And I am absolutely certain I will need them. But aha! The cabinet space I cleared two night’s ago is perfect.
I finished cleaning the fridge Friday night. Then I moved on to a storage cabinet in the living room area.
I hit the file cabinets and boxed up files I never look at but have a perverse need to keep. I’m one of those people whose memories are triggered by physical objects. Show me a credit card bill from 2006 and I can probably tell you what most of the purchases were and throw in a funny story. Pull out one of my skirts from 1999 and I can tell you the highlights of my best moments in it. So I like to keep things. But I’ve been in this apartment awhile and the things are starting to keep me. So the tossing has begun. But other items must be transferred into my storage space. Though, it is oddly liberating to box up those old VHS tapes and say buh-bye.
Some things that were once so precious have ceased to be. Funny how time gives you perspective. Some memories don’t need to be triggered anymore. I’m okay with forgetting. It’s like tiptoeing through several other lives when I look at all these things. Lives I used to lead but no longer do. It’s kinda cool to see where I was and realize how far I’ve come. Yes, going through old bills does all this for me.
I still have the closets and the bedroom and more of my office area, but I am making progress. It will probably be a two-week adventure. Hopefully in the end, I’ll have an awesome looking apartment and some peace of mind.