Do you ever wonder how you got to where you are now?
I spent a good chunk of my afternoon yesterday digging through the boxes I have stored in my parents’ basement. I was looking for a couple of specific things, but kept getting sidetracked looking through photo albums or yearbooks or old copies of my high school newspaper. I’m not a pack-rat by any means, but I am sentimental, and so I’ve kept a lot of things from over the years, and on an afternoon when I had nothing else to do, I got lost walking down memory lane.
Most of the items I found brought back great memories – a picture of my sorority class my senior year, for example. I found my high school yearbook and laughed at the signatures – the friends who said we’d be friends forever (but who I only hear from on my birthday via a Facebook wall post), the friends I never thought I’d still keep in touch with but do, and a guy or two who I never thought paid me any attention but may in fact have. I laughed at my hair (terrible through most of high school), and I hummed the songs from my high school musicals as I found the program for each.
I found my scrapbook and journal from my semester abroad. I found every journal I’ve ever kept, dating back to April of 1990. I took them all to my bedroom, stacked them in the corner, and last night, I stayed up until after 1am, reading back over my life – the good, the bad, the Penguins updates, the lists of crushes, and the absolutely hilarious:
May 19, 1991 – “I have a crush on Jaromir Jagr, Number 68 on the Pittsburgh Penguins.”
February 17, 1992 – “I am so mad! The kid I like makes me believe (for a year) that he likes me and now he says he likes my best friend.”
May 27, 1992 – “The Penguins won last night! 5 to 4. Lemieux scored the winning goal with 12.6 seconds left. Yea!”
February 12, 1993 – “Pens report! They are doing terrific this year! They’re in 1st place in the NHL and the Patrick Division. But guess what. Mario Lemieux has Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer. It’s very curable, but everyone is worried. And Tom Barrasso just got over the chicken pox. More later.”
April 21, 1994 – “Today we got into a fight. I’m glad, actually. They think they’re so cool. You wouldn’t believe the notes they wrote me today.”
February 12, 1995 – “I’m writing a book about my life story. It’ll be from my point of view about everything that happens from 5th – 8th grade.”
January 9, 1996 – “Well, it’s 1996. Once again, my New Year’s resolution is to get a boyfriend.”
January 3, 1997 – “Here’s my resolutions for 1997: 1. Talk to more guys. 2. Exercise more. 3. Don’t open my big mouth if people don’t want to hear it.”
June 30, 1997 – “Got back from NEW YORK CITY at midnight last night!!! I had sooooo much fun!!! I ♥ NY! I want to move there. I am so serious. Someday, I will live in New York City!”
August 30, 1998 – “Titanic comes out on video in 2 days! I can’t wait!!!”
November 27, 1998 – “We hung out all day. I guess we were flirting a lot. So I talked to him for two hours Friday night after the concert on AOL. Then I talked to him again Sat. night. Ana talked to him on AOL and got him to admit he liked me! So we decided to do something tonight and I told him to call me. Ana talked to him again and kept telling me to ask me out. He called me Wed. and we talked for over two hours!”
August 16, 1999 (with the lyrics to Ants Marching written in the margins) – “I’m getting so excited, I can’t wait to get out of this house!!! I’m so restless and so sick of dealing with my ‘rents. Everything I do, no matter what it is, I have a huge ‘attitude problem.'”
It was a really amusing evening, reading mostly about which boys I liked when, which of my friends I was mad at that week, and the other general ramblings of a teenage girls in the ’90s. It was all in good fun, until I started reading my Paris journal.
A lot of the journal was a recap of the bars I went to. A disproportionate amount was talking about the boy I had a crush on during my semester there. But in between, there was the chronicle of a 20-year-old girl, really seeing the world for the first time, and having an entire universe of potential in front of her. She talked about the places she’d go to visit next, and the great experience she was getting in internships in Paris and how excited she was to take on an internship in New York next. She thought she was setting herself up for an amazing career, and at the end of the journal, she wrote, “Hopefully 10 years from now I’ll enjoy reading this and seeing these places again because I know I’ll go back again.”
I looked at myself almost 11 years ago, and I looked at myself today, and I wondered, what the hell happened? Yes, I have traveled significantly since then. I’ve gone back to Paris and London, and I’ve seen other parts of the world. But somewhere along the way, I started to feel like I’m on a treadmill, running in place, rather than on a path running forward.
I know losing my job was out of my control. I know moving home for the time being was the smart financial decision. I know I’ll find a new job soon, hopefully one the challenges me and pays the bills a little better than the last one. Yes, there are aspects of my life that I’m extremely happy about – I wrote my Christmas card list today, and I’m sending cards to friends across 11 different states, all of which are trying to recruit me to move to where they are. Things with the Green Day Guy (who we’ll just refer to from now on as GDG) are going incredibly well – even as I’m guarded and cautious, I love spending time with him, and for some odd reason, he likes spending time with me too. But I can’t shake the feeling that I veered off course somewhere along the way, that I somehow missed out on the life I was supposed to have when I was 20.
Does anyone else feel like that, or is it just me? I always tell myself that everything happens for a reason – I’d go insane otherwise – but sometimes it’s hard to believe that. What if I had made one different decision somewhere along the line… would I still be here, or would I be somewhere completely different? And would that necessarily be a good thing?