Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'm not getting older, I'm getting bitter

Okay, this weekend was a bit of a surprise. First off, this was not my high school reunion as some of you had assumed. That's next year. This was a reunion of a choir I was in. The choir is, sadly, no more, but it was in existence from 1970-1991. That means the people at this reunion ranged in age from early fifties to early thirties.

I did see many old friends and I hope I'll stay in touch with them. There were moments when we were eighteen again, but mostly there wasn't a need to recapture our youth as much as acknowledge it.

It was so strange to see people who, until this weekend, were forever frozen as teenagers in my mind, suddenly age twenty years or more. There were wrinkles. Paunches. Bald spots. Most of the men were much broader than they used to be. Several of the women had turned into their mothers. There were some deaths, but many, many more births. People I remember as kids were now doctors, ministers, college professors, new mothers and fathers, old mothers and fathers, stay at home parents, teachers, writers, lawyers . . . the gamut.

But in most ways, they were still the people I remembered.

In addition to the obligatory slide show and photo albums, one of the girls (whom I suppose I should call a woman since she's now free to be in her thirties in my mind, instead of being stuck at sixteen) brought a video of one of our performances. A musical that we took on tour my senior year.

I'm unused to seeing myself. I don't like being photographed or filmed, tend to avoid mirrors . . . too self-conscious. Yet for about an hour on Saturday, I found myself watching a seventeen-year-old version of myself. Speaking dialogue I can't remember having ever learned. Singing songs that I didn't recognize. Doing choreography that made the adult me wince with embarrassment (luckily, all of us watching were doing that).

I noticed a few things. I had a good voice. A high, clear tenor. And I was a decent looking kid. Not one of the really beautiful guys in our group, but not bad (with the exception of my John Denver hair and owl-like glasses). Why couldn't I have seen that then? All I saw then was the awkwardness, the not-quite-proportional body, the high-pitched voice . . . everything framed as a negative.

I wish I could have seen then what I see now.

But as Roseanne Rosannadanna said, "Ya know, Jane, it's always something . . ."

This weekend allowed me the opportunity to compare who I used to be with who I've become. And frankly, I'm not pleased. Somewhere along the line, I wandered seriously off course. I see the things I need to change, but I don't really know if I can. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And I just can't stay where I am any more.

Maybe I'll talk about some of this later, maybe not. Since the changes have to come from within, none of you may even notice. As long as I do, I suppose, that's all that matters.


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Jess said...

You're right. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You're also right that what matters is that you notice and appreciate the changes in yourself.

Don't take regrets away from these recent observations/revelations. You know now that you didn't see the good in yourself back then. So learn from that and find the good in yourself now. Find it and make the most of your life.

Tuna Girl said...

Someone once told me that when you see people after many years, it is shocking at first. But within five minutes their old selves merge with their new selves so that you know them completely.

I have had that sensation of seeing my teen self through my 30+ year-old eyes. And damn it. I was hot back then. I had no clue at the time and maybe that's for the best. But now I try to remind myself that hot chick is still inside me somewhere. I just need to let her out.

Jeff said...

If you're gonna be bitter, at least be bitter like fine, dark chocolate, vs. cold, day-old coffee.

I am in a similar boat. I'm paying a career strategist 95 dollars an hour to help me chart a new course to my destination--wherever that may be.

Life is full of second acts (and third ones, and even fourth acts, sometimes). Don't doubt your ability to stage one of your own.

David said...

If we only knew how powerful and desireable we were at that age, we would have taken over the world by now.

You can change anything you want about yourself, all you need is the ability not to fear failure. Easier said then done, but that really is the secret.

Keep us posted.

palochi said...

Everytime I look at pictures from high school, I also cringe a little. What was I thinking with the "Journey" hair (or later, the blue hair)? Why didn't I work out to lose the baby fat? Why did I put up with so much shit and taunting from the A-list?

Those are the easy questions. The hard ones are the "whatever happened to the grand plans I had?" or "why couldn't I have known then what I know now?"

I've never been able to go back to reunions. I got a call a month ago from someone I went to college with. He called twice since. I still haven't returned the call.

And now, on the edge of 40, I'm asking those same questions of the guy I was in my 20s and early 30s. The only difference now is I'm paying a shrink to explore it with me. :-)

The thing I'm starting to discover (about myself, at least) is that I'm neither of those guys anymore. People change, but so do you. You have to take the things you know you have going for you and let them help define who you are now, not the failures or insecurities of someone you were in the past.

For most of us, it's incredibly difficult figuring out who you are currently and how/why the hell you ended up there. It's much easier to know who you were and what you should have done differently. I think that's part of the somewhat fucked-up meaning of life. Not all of it, but a glimpse.

And, for all it's worth, I would've loved to have hung out and be friends with the 17-year-old Crash. Even with the John Denver hair.

Robert said...

You had a great time, right? :-) I sure hope so. You were joyous? But were you a little sad, too, knowing how time just slips by like sands in your hand... Years become days, they seem!

Did you take pictures? I want to see. I wonder what else's gone thru your head when you saw the video!?! You've come a long way and I'm sure you're as beautiful [inside and out], more than ever!!!

PatCH said...

Ah, we're all getting old together. The past sometimes seems poetically bittersweet, and the present gets a bad rap.

Life, and the future, can always be better. But it's the way we embrace it that makes the difference.

That being said, I'd love to see photos of 18 year-old Crash!