I actually wrote something else about 36.
It had to do with space, and how pauses are positive — even when we believe the Dave Eggers mantra that stasis is criminal. We encompassing me, in this essay you’ll never read.
I wanted to like this essay. It had some phrases, or darlings if you will, that I didn’t want to cut out: a girl who only exists as a collection of memories and impressions; and Whether you do something, or you do nothing, you perish; and space is both the kindest and least kind thing I can do. There was even an ode to every relevant band director I ever had (Steve, Greg, Bev, Jesse, Todd, Grant), something-something music happens in the rests.
But this essay annoyed me. And I don’t like it when essays annoy me.
So I kept pushing sentences around, sifting through them like those guys who rake baseball diamonds between innings. And it all felt so damn forced. Like I was trying to write an essay about space, and even though I had an essay about space in front of me, it wasn’t an essay about space. It was words about space scattered around a page in a verbal Rorschach test.
I didn’t even have the heart to cry over these spilt words. So I took some melatonin and went to sleep, angry at the 26 letters stretched across my keyboard. If I could just mash them down in the right order, I could actually create something, you know? And it’s been a long time since I created something.
Good morning, the essay whispered when I opened my laptop the next day Fuck off, I hissed right back. Yes, I’d had coffee. I was now just pissed at the essay.
I ignored the essay, figuring I’d let it wallow in its own shame of mediocrity (which is truly my shame, but it’s nice to displace shame sometimes). And then, Tami texted me about something else entirely, and said the magic words: it’s like throwing paper airplanes into the wind, for lack of better effectiveness.
That right there was actually what all those words about space were about. The past year has felt a lot like throwing paper airplanes into the wind. It’s felt like trial and spectacular failure on repeat, like I’m trying to get somewhere I’ll never go, and like I’m trying to solve an unsolvable problem because JESUS CHRIST IT’S A PAPER AIRPLANE FLYING INTO SOME GOD DAMNED WIND.
Even that smug essay was a fine example of this effect. Well played, smug essay.
I came into 35 feeling like I’d gotten a lot of positive outcomes from my body being a playground/science experiment (non-required reading: 35…plus 34, 33, 32, 31, and 30 for good measure). But I’m coming at 36 from the other end of the spectrum, realizing not all experiments leave you feeling more yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, the past year has been bursting with moments I wouldn’t trade for anything — staying up so late it’s early talking and kissing, other people’s 30th birthdays, watching friends get married (and watching friends marry folks), ghost children on records, tacos, Hamilton, book shop openings, trips to San Diego, LA, Reno, New Mexico, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Dillon Beach, traveling to Italy with my parents and seeing the actual towns where my dad’s grandparents grew up, getting high with my best friend and laughing like teenagers at The Bachelor, watching my dad climb out a window at an open house to see where it went, rainy runs, snuggles/long-walks with Maizie, inside jokes involving blue gloves (to name a few) — but internally, I’ve felt static. Blocked, if you will, like a wall of air is rushing against me and I keep brushing myself off and taking a breath, and diving back in.
A piece of me is more annoyed about this than I was about the darn smug essay. But the rest of me sees the point of it all.
Sometimes, you have to try to go somewhere and get nowhere. Sometimes, you have to wind up back where you started so you can get where you’re supposed to finish. Maybe some years are for what appears to be nothing, and those are the years after which you wake the hell up and you do whatever it is you’ve been meaning to.
I need to correct something from above: It had been a long time since I created something. Today is day one of moving beyond that.