There was a massive fire in my old college town one night. I was sitting in a cafe, eating chocolate cake and watching Sherlock on my laptop, when I noticed that there had been a fire truck parked just outside for quite some time. Mildly annoyed and distracted by the flashing lights, I walked outside and saw that the entire street had been blocked off. I was not far from home, and a mere block or two from my apartment, there was a blazing inferno. A friend of mine lived in the building across the street. I later found out that he had been getting drunk with friends, and upon learning about the fire, he and they had spent the evening frantically moving his furniture out of the apartment in case the burning building collapsed and the fire spread to his place. It didn’t, meaning that all his hassle was for naught. I walked up the street away from the fire, stepping around and jumping over the massive puddles (it had rained a lot that day) that had accumulated below every curb. Another friend had called me up and invited me to join him at a party. I circled around to my place, dropped off my things, changed into dry clothes, and headed off to join him. That same night, I started writing a story that I’d been developing for some time. It was quite a memorable night.
I miss the fall. Is it just me, or are the spring and autumn seasons growing shorter? Last year, I stepped outside in November and found it to be quite warm. That shouldn’t happen. I understand that global warming is going to kill us all, but even so, we should still have seasons where it is cool without being cold and warm without being hot. Some of my fondest memories involve catching a shuttle to my job at a library storage facility, where I’d spend all day shelving and cataloging books while listening to my iPod. When I think back on that period, the song I remember most clearly is The Decemberists’ “Sons & Daughters”, a song I liked so much that I used to listen to it, then go back to the beginning of the album so that I’d hear it again, this time with the full force of the preceding songs behind it.
I need to live in a place that has four distinct seasons. I need to feel the Earth turning under my feet and know that time was passing, not too quickly or too slowly, but at just the right pace. I hate it when people say that the next few months or years of my life are going to fly right by, because I don’t like it when time flies, not even a little. Whenever I find myself in a situation that I enjoy, I’m practically digging my heels into the ground to make the planet rotate just a little bit slower. Once it’s over, I spend all my time trying to make things return to the way they were before so I can feel in control again. I wish my life would hold still so that I can get a handle on it.
I feel like I can measure the changes in my life by the ways that I spend my vacation time. My freshman year as an undergrad, winter break was a marvel. After the crushing ennui that was the summer after high school graduation, suddenly I couldn’t find enough hours in the day to see all the old friends, visit the old haunts, read the books, watch the movies, and listen to the albums that I’d been putting off the whole time. I had momentum, so it’s not surprising that none of my winter vacations after that carried quite the same giddy rush. Sometimes, my vacations were more filled with anxiety than anything. Since the past few months had been so stressful, Thanksgiving would have to be extra relaxing in order to make up for that. No matter how long the break was, it could always be longer, and even if I did feel the old sense of lethargy and isolation drifting in as my old friends all moved on and there was more to do at college than “at home”, I kept trying to make the breaks last longer. It felt like I was finally finding the time to take stock of my priorities and devote my time to reading and writing–you know, the stuff that really matters. The funny thing is that the older I get, the less I feel that way. I guess that means I’m maturing. God help me.
I used to make the mistake of dividing everything up into absolutes. Everyone was either my friend or my enemy, with no spaces in between. It takes time to smooth out the complexities of every relationship. I still haven’t figured out just how far I can trust some of the people I know. Usually, when I err, it’s because I trust them too much rather than too little, thinking that they didn’t really mean to offend me when they honestly don’t give a shit how I feel. There are a few that I truly believe to be the real thing. Others fall in and out of my favor. At one point, I responded to every perceived slight by trying to push someone out of my life altogether. Then they’d call me up and invite me to something and all would be forgiven, until the next time they pissed me off. Sitting alone in my room, I never could figure out what box to put them in. The truth always turned out to be more complicated.