Saturday, January 30, 2010

When I Was Young Part 2: The Future & I

First: check it out! My top 10 favourite albums are on autostraddle!


When I was younger I didn't dream of getting married and living in domestic bliss. I wanted to live alone near the beach in a small town with one gas station and a bead shop owned by a gypsy. I wanted to wear black and red flannel and hiking boots and I wanted it to be autumn all the time. I didn't want a phone 'cause I didn't want to talk to people.

Then came the point where I realized that living in a small town meant that people might know who I was and they might want to talk to me, ask me questions. I realized what I wanted, above all else, was anonymity. I began to picture myself in a big city like Manhattan, walking the streets never seeing the same person twice. I imagined the kind of freedom I might have, living by myself in a small apartment close to a main street. I could walk down the stairs in my building and instantly disappear into a crowd of people.

The two projected visions of my future seem so different -- one is in the country, the other, in the city. The thing is, though my vision has changed, I've always wanted the same thing. Is there a name for it (privacy? independence? freedom? to be left alone?)? It sounds lonely, but that's what the future looked like to me.

I never wanted money. Maybe that's because I've always had money -- never piles and piles of money, but enough to get by. Enough to buy a coffee twice a week, enough to buy excess clothes. Enough to play sports and travel. For whatever reason, when I thought of myself in my 20s, I always saw myself as poor. It's strange because I like money. I like to save my money and then make impulse buys on things I don't need. And I like things. I like my macbook and my iPhone and my overpriced moleskin and buying new books.

I always thought I would be a writer. I wanted to write a book as good as Harry Potter and I wanted to be a poet. I didn't understand poetry. I wanted to stay up late and drink coffee and typetypetype a novel on a desk covered in crumpled up paper.

Other people never figured into my plans. One thing I always knew about my future was that it didn't matter what other people thought about it. I was sure, and still am, that it's my future -- not my parents', not my friends', not my teachers'. As harsh as it may seem, they were never necessary to my success. Success is happiness. I'm probably wrong about my parents and friends.

I guess of all the choices I might make or could have made, what I want is kind of strange. I was always a little less mainstream than that, though. I was always good at writing, at least I was better than other people in my classes. I liked to read when reading was unpopular. I liked to write in my spare time. When I was sad I wrote poetry and at first it always rhymed and then it was just a mish mash of words, clich├ęs, and tears. At one point I realized that hardly anybody reads poetry and hardly anybody understands poetry and you can write this assignment in any way you want except not in a poem.

Part of growing up in North America is that we're told from the beginning that we can be anything we want. I can be a writer if I want to and you can be a firefighter or a pilot or a chef. I keep hearing that we're the next leaders of our country, but the truth is we're not. Only one person gets to be Prime Minister/President. Someone has to clean the Prime Minister's toilet and sweep the streets and serve you at McDonald's. They never tell you you might be a janitor. Do people dream of being janitors? Do people dream of being STM workers? Do people wake up every day and think "Boy am I happy I pick up people's garbage every Monday! This is what I've always wanted to do!"?

The thing is, you're probably not going to be Prime Minister or a famous actress. You might not even get a job.

Sarah: he’s right, the undergrad degree is the new HS diploma
also hard to get a job with
Laneia: um did a h.s. diploma EVER guarantee a good job???
Sarah: no, it guaranteed a job if you were willing to join the military
Laneia: right
Sarah: i think the high school diploma lost it’s appeal in the 40s

Maybe the point here is that having shitty dreams means your dreams are likely to come true. I mean, I'm probably not going to live in NYC, but it'll be a big city, and I'll probably be a poor starving writer, writing poetry nobody reads.

But I think the real point is that, for me anyway, I've always been this way. I've always known what I want and I've always sought to achieve it. Subconsciously I've paved my way towards the future I always imagined myself in. I've shed the negative people from my life, gotten rid of the things that make me feel like shit. I think all I've ever wanted was the chance to be myself. I want to stop being lied to. I want to be around people I like, and who like me. I want to be around nobody at all. I want to be happy. I want to step out of my heart and go walking beneath the enormous sky.

And I will.


Pepe said...

You ought to read Cannery Row by steinbeck, he book digs off that vibe

Ashley Skye said...

I totally understand this, man. I think that February is going to be a super existential-crisis month for all us liberal arts students.
Do you ever have your parents tell you that you can be anything you want, and then they say that you have to make money? It's like, okay. Yes, I know. I don't want to eat ramen noodles every day (...or do I?), but I want to work for what I have.
Nice post. :>

saint modesto said...

pepe: i'll check it out!

ashley: haha thanks. yeah, i want to work but i want to be happy working. and it's okay to me if i'm not rich. actually i think it's better that way.

Lesh said...

Money is just paper and ink...

Ari said...

I can't bring myself to have realistic dreams. I'm tired of waiting to "make do". The life I want has to start someday.

saint modesto said...

lesh: paper and ink that our society holds in high esteem...

ari: what i'm saying is that my "realistic dream" is actually my "dream dream". like i actually want all those things and it's so much better because it's totally possible.

caitlinmae said...

the image of you pulling on a buffalo plaid shirt from a coathook (made of driftwood or antlers) and walking to the post office in your seaside town they forgot to bomb is going to stick with me all day.
sincerely, thank you for this, it's an important dose of perspective. and your writing strikes my heart at just the right angle.

saint modesto said...

caitlinmae: definitely driftwood. that's actually a nice image, though. i think in another universe a different me is doing exactly what you described.

thank you for reading it.