Monday, December 22, 2014

The Same But Different

My first semester of graduate school occasioned one of the longest absences from this blog I've ever had, but I wanted to assure everyone that I am very much still here, albeit in a different way than perhaps you are used to--or perhaps than I'm used to. I haven't written because I've been so busy. But I also haven't written because I haven't known what to say. You met me at such a different time of my life, when I was only nineteen, and immediately after we made one another's acquaintance I rocketed out of a terrible valley and up a glorious peak. You met me in an era of sunshine like I had never known before. I was young and beautiful and happier than I would have ever believed possible. It's tempting to leave it at that, to let this blog stand as a memorial to the joyous peak of my youth. But that's not in my nature. It's always, as you know, been my instinct to write, to reflect. So I'm still here. I'm not what I was, though.

It's funny how, when you're quite young, you somehow manage to convince yourself that that time will last forever, and as befits the end of my youth the feeling I have often these days is one of profound oldness. I don't say age because I can't claim it (I'm only twenty-six), but I can very much claim oldness. I struggled in childhood and adolescence against debilitating illness. I weathered coming out and defending my identity. I fought my way to a college degree despite the relentless financial obstacles thrown in front of me by my own parents. I endured long-term unemployment. I died at twenty-five and then came back. I've soared and been shattered. I've been degraded and exalted. I've collapsed and rebuilt, twice now. I'd had more hurt by twenty than most people will know in their entire lives. I'm so enormously old.

What you would like to hear and what I would like to tell you is that everything is amazing, that through the storm I came out stronger. That last part is true. But what's also true is that there's still a great deal I'm bothered by, and my melancholy nights are still more numerous than I'd care for. The loneliness, for one thing, weighs heavily on me. When I was a club-going college kid I don't think I felt this so acutely, but now as I proceed through the second half of my twenties I find myself, more and more, hoping for a real bond and a partner. Whoever he is, he seems elusive. A sort of pre-date I went on recently was a bust, though the fellow in question was nice enough. And because I've sworn off any more one-night stands, which satisfied a base need but left me so empty, I've not been with a man in well over a year. I don't know when I will be again.

Then there's my beauty, which took a beating in the aftermath of my death. In my university years I gloried in my trim body and youthful prettiness, but six months on powerful medications resulted in a substantial weight gain from which I have only slightly recovered. I haven't looked in a mirror and been satisfied with what I've seen since at least a year ago, and there's no way that's not hard. I find myself saying "I was" and "I used to be." I think about the weight yet to lose and it feels like a mountain in front of me. My great fear is that I'll never be beautiful again. Sometimes I weep over it. Sometimes I think I'll die alone.

For the issues that remain, however, there can be no question that my position is immensely improved now from what it was. I completed my first semester of graduate school with a 3.5 GPA, have eliminated from my life all those who are not constructive, recently finished a student-teaching practicum that I loved and for which I was lavishly praised, and am in the earliest stages of investigating a subject on which to obtain my PhD. It's years in the future, and it will come after teaching for a bit, but it's there. Those are all very good things.

My hope is that the enterprising attitude with which I took charge of myself and laid out a career path will enable me to confront, then remedy, the remaining concerns I have. You met me as an enchanted boy. I can never be that again. Even the platforms through which we first communicated, Blogger and Flickr, have materially declined since the days in 2009 when I flowered with such magic and majesty. But if you care to, we can still be friends. I'm at sort of a weird juncture where I'm figuring things out and adjusting the blueprints I'm working off of, but the foundation I'm building is solid. I'm doing everything I need to do now to ensure that one day, maybe as soon as three years in the future, I'll be stable and happy, self-sufficient and aware of my place, content with my body and content in a partner. Graduate school will be an interregnum of sorts, a two-year twilight in my mother's now-welcoming home. Afterward? The world I've longed for, whatever that is.

I'll still be here if you will. Maybe you can help me brighten up the place.


Jay M. said...

I think that when someone goes through all that you have, and comes out on top, then you deserve to boast a bit. To not have given up, and to have gotten to where you are, are incredible achievements, and I am happy to see that glow around you.

Having just come out a few years ago (I think at 56, I qualify as old), I can truly wonder if I will die alone, without a partner, and quite frankly, I'm having trouble figuring out where to even look for such a person. Certainly not the clubs, online dating sort of scares me (though I may turn to that), and in trying to get "out there", I'm simply not sure where "out there" is. At least you have the rather large community of academia, with many, many people your own age around. Good luck in your hunt.

BB, everyone moves along at their own pace, diverted and redirected by circumstances, many of which are beyond their own control. You've come out ahead, you have a course, and no, it's not all perfect (my life crisis added 100+ pounds to me - you think you don't like mirrors!), but you're way beyond the sadness and badness of years past.

I'll sure stick around. You're an inspiration! Thank you for that!

Peace <3

naturgesetz said...

Thanks for the report. I'm glad the educational side of things is going so well.

As for finding a partner: I don't have one and never did, but from all I've seen and read, it seems to me that it isn't something you can put on a timetable. What happens is you meet someone compatible somewhere sometime. If you try to force it, it probably won't work.

I'll add that I know people are different, but for me, being single has not been a real problem. I'd still like to have a really close friend, but I can live without one.

Anonymously Me said...

Dude you have flickr?? I never realized that.
Let's be friends. :)

Arizaphale said...

Ah BB. This post is a little out of date now I know but I feel compelled to comment regardless. Perhaps because I am a busy body? Perhaps because I have related to it in the past and even now see echoes of my own anxieties.

At 54 I laugh at your concern for your fleeting youth. I remember feeling it for the first time in my late 30s. A wise woman said to me then, "you think you look bad now, when you're 60 you will be wishing you looked the way you do now!" By God how right she was. Enjoy what you have now! Maybe you carry a little more weight? Meh. You have the elasticity and flexibility of youth on your side. And while we're on the subject, the one thing I have learned over the years is that self confidence and contentment is a far better aphrodisiac than beauty. For anyone worthwhile that always attracts dickbrains.

And as for ending up 'alone'...I have taken the step of being 'alone' recently and I see it as far preferable to a miserable half existence. As a straight woman I am damn glad I had my kid, but that aside, I'm not sure exactly how the men I have allowed into my life have actually enhanced it. Sure I woke up alone this Christmas, but I know I have people who love me. They may be a long way away..but I am not alone (thank God for Skype)
So there you are BB... your life is laid out before you like a glorious oyster shell full of pearls. Don't look back. Look forward.You are admired and respected. Write on!