Living in the Moment
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
Life is so weird and fast and fake feeling, like a movie playing in reverse. One minute you're climbing on monkey bars and learning to tie your shoes and the next you're folding laundry and wondering how you got so wrinkly and the next, well, you may as well be at a retirement home. I don't remember a ton about my childhood, probably because I'd live almost exclusively in my brain if I could. But I do remember baking apple crisp with my grandmother on rainy summer afternoons. Her apple tree produced the smallest, sourest apples and the only proper thing to do with them was to bake them into something sweet. Life is kind of like that too, it can turn sour and end sweet or vice versa, except sometimes you don't even realize it's sour until you're out of it and then you think, "Thank God I didn't understand how hard that would have been at the beginning."
I like doing laundry and it feels weird to admit that, like I'm shunning some sort of adult code that we all agree to live by but never talk about. We hate doing laundry and dishes but we love staring into our phones and drinking ourselves to death and making jokes about how old we're all getting. If I was a kid, I would roll my eyes at my grown self, because kids don't know any better than to be selfishly in the moment. They are disgusted by adults because we are disgusting. Kids believe you when you say you're going to do something because kids mean what they say. Kids learn all their bad behaviors from somewhere, so it's always weird when parents blame their kids for acting out. It comes form somewhere, and apples can't fall far from their tree, after all.
Not that I would know a damn thing about having or raising a child. I have an elderly cat who remains the love of my life, and I'm quite satisfied with that. My problem, I think, is that I'm too much like a man. If I were to have kids, I'd want a housewife to make dinner and clean the toilets and fetch my little brat from preschool. Then I'd come home from work and engage with it for a while before putting it to bed at 6 p.m. so I could go about doing things.
I didn't really mean to write about kids, but here we are. I saw a video clip the other day of an inmate who killed his cell mate because his cell mate was a child molester and I don't think anyone in the courtroom had a problem with that. I don't know what happened to the guy who murdered his cell mate, but it does seem like you can't just go around murdering people. Probably, he thought well I'm already in prison anyway. When you have nothing to lose, you can feel like you have nothing to gain either, but that isn't true. That guy will probably rot in prison forever but at least he got 45 seconds of internet fame and the support of millions of nameless, faceless, AI-obsessed humans.
I only know about kids because I used to be one, and when I was a kid there were no smart phones or AI or endless streaming services. We had about 13 channels and some were redundant but we lived just fine. We read books and thought thoughts and spoke with other humans. We listened to the radio and waited for our favorite song to play and sometimes that took days. I used to record songs from the radio to a tape and play them over and over and over again. I would burn my own CDs and give them away to my friends. One of my boyfriends made me a mixed tape of love songs and I didn't like a single one but I never once thought, "Wow, this boy barely knows me." I just thought he had poor taste in music.
Life is sort of like that sometimes too; you never know you have poor taste until someone reminds you that Velcro shoes are meant for very young children or the elderly and you are, in fact, in neither of those camps yet. You'll be able to wear adult-sized Velcro shoes soon enough, and take advantage of the senior discount at Enterprise and say things like "back in my day" without any self-consciousness because your day has passed and everyone damn well knows it.
When I was a kid, I spent summers barefoot, priding myself on not needing shoes to do things like walk over gravel or pull weeds from the garden or shoot hoops in the driveway. I was a kid in the late 90's and early 2000's, and I have no idea what being a kid now would even be like. Maybe it's because I'm an adult with adult responsibilities, but life now just seems more complex. It's hard to not feel like you're constantly behind the curve, like if you just run faster without stopping, you'll be able to catch up.
The thing no one ever tells you is that sometimes, you have to slow down in order to keep moving forward. Sometimes, you have to stop completely. If you're always rushing forward, you won't even notice that you're rounding the bend into middle age. You'll completely forget baking apple crisp with your grandmother on rainy summer afternoons. You'll stop understanding kids, and you'll decay into a cynical old hag with nothing spectacular to say or think or do. Thank God you didn't understand how hard it would be at the beginning.