Friday, March 09, 2007

roll out the mid-life crisis

Lately I have been haunted by memories. They don’t stick around long, but there are a hell of a lot of them. Used to be I didn’t remember much about college years and … well, pretty much anything detailed up until a few years ago. Some of it I’ve been blocking out, and some of it was blocked out for me by brain chemistry (including whatever chemicals I was ingesting at the time.)

I’m sure it’s a good thing, even though it’s uncomfortable. I’ve got to accept the things I did in the past – the good stuff and the bad stuff – because there’s not a damned thing I can do to change it. Whatever amends I’d want to make now would only open up my own wounds, and the wounds of others.

It’s impossible to unwind the memories of what I did to other people from what I did to myself. They’re all linked together – uncomfortable recollections about the effects of a debilitating lack of self-esteem – essentially, what happened because I felt worthless. The things I did to make myself feel better – especially the casual and sometimes catastrophic sexual relationships.

Did I actually do that? It saddens me to think of my past self as someone so thoughtlessly cruel, and at the same time, so miserably dependent on the worth that other people lent me for moments at a time.

My dreams lately have not been memories, exactly, but conversations and events that trigger memories in my waking hours.

Last night my subconscious took things a step farther.

I’m attending an awards ceremony for an independent film I’d done (and whoa there’s a chick I haven’t seen since high school, what the hell is she doing here?) I think I’ve been in this dream theater before, but it was bigger and Duckie was there. This is all grown-ups.

During one of the breaks I’m sitting on the steps in the aisle (red carpeted, nice quality) and this seems normal – it’s a very casual affair (no pun intended) and there are other people hanging out in the aisles, too.

I’m talking to an old friend, who I haven’t seen in years, but who has recently popped back up on the radar. It’s not surprising to see him here, just weird. He wrote and directed the film, after all. So we’re catching up.

What have you been up to? he asks. Are you still in theater?

No, I say. I haven’t had time, and there doesn’t seem to be much going on that’s worth the time away from Duckie.

There’s an uncomfortable silence, and he looks at me almost sadly, as if he’s disappointed that I’m not using any of my special talents much anymore.

I woke up with that dream fresh in my mind. My way-in-to-work conversation with Brian led me, quite clearly, to the realization that no matter what amazing things I’ve done in the past, the fact remains that I’m not really using many of my gifts. I’m cultivating new things – yoga, motherhood, partnering – all good and important practices. They foster patience, diplomacy, steadfastness, loyalty, honesty.

But here’s the thing: when I was in high school I wrote, a lot. I learned French, Latin, and studied a bit of Russian, Greek and Japanese. I played the clarinet (pretty damned well, I might add) for going on six years before I quit. I just put it down and never picked it back up. I’ve been in more shows (acting, directing, costuming, hell, I even hung lights and designed sets) that I can remember off the top of my head. I seem to have been hard-wired for creativity in one form or another.

The wiring is still there. The particular interest in theater and writing has waned, but lately my brain has been bored. I’m picking up several books at once now – and not all of them are historical romance or fantasy, either. It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that

oh shit i haven’t even opened up my email yet

my newly awakened appetite for information could be partially appeased by repeated trips to the library. So I’m reading some classics I never read in high school, and I’m even slogging through some non-fiction, too.

Hey, it keeps the brain sharp, right?

And in the meantime I can daydream about going back to school full time when Duck starts school. History, maybe, with a minor in religion. That would be wicked. Especially if I could learn Arabic, too.

Anyway. A woman can dream.


Anonymous said...

welcome to the club
judy and i have had many discussions about this very topic.
your talent and abilities wasting away in a land and time only you can imagine. i'm still waiting for that great piece of literature lurking in your sub-conscience. your mom and i used to relish your many obvious skills. where'd that little girl go? oh, i know.....
she's out there..still a little rebelious, but that's a good thing, raising a beautiful daughter of her own.
love to you, hubby and duckie.
bailey says wufff.


SB Gypsy said...

I totally can relate, I always thought I would make a dent in the world, but the world is vaster and more dent resistant that I could ever concieve.

Now, after all these years of running on the treadmill, I look around and what's there to show for it? Well, to start with, three twenty-something youngsters. That's an accomplishment, I guess. My genes are immortalized in the pool. Now that they have their own lives it's time for me to leave a little more durable something behind. I have yet to figure out what it will be.

And in general, I've been thinking more and more lately about the awful waste of talent and brains that has been going on in America lo these last 10 years or so. What with all the downsizing and the flight of industry, and the imported slave wage laborers that are taking over here and depressing our wages.

I have no solutions tho. There's never any time for solutions. *sigh*

(un)relaxeddad said...

Regret! It never stops, does it? I've done pretty atrocious things to people, none of which I can undo. I can do better in the here and now, though. But the sense of talent draining away unused - that's harder. I haven't really picked up a guitar or written a song for three years. Curiously, dudelet is three. One makes one's choices and I regret nothing but...

My most recent dream involved my going down to a basement where three middle aged men grimly kicked the shit out of me for some unnamed transgression. Maybe I just read too much Jung.