That part of me stuck in the past refuses to recognize my life as it is now. I'm still drawn to my diary, but my professional metamorphosis makes it seem a stranger, like looking at an old yearbook, trying to connect to the notes people from long ago left, knowing that at one point they held some emotional weight, but not feeling it viscerally. I don't want to leave it behind, but I can't explain why, in any rational sense. And so I find myself simply ignoring it, moving on the way you move on from the posters you had on your adolescent wall, or stuffed animals that once bore names you lovingly bestowed (long-since forgotten) or old miseries that kept you company.
People treat me differently based on who I am now. They come to me for advice, for approval, for favor. They look to me for a moral compass, and to make changes. I remember what that was like, and sometimes I think I am still one of them, and it gets me into trouble. One of the things I can no longer do is commiserate. I am at the root of their collective misery. Oh, I think, you're upset about me. I can bring that to an end, to a point, but I know that it will only cause additional heartburn. I'm a pillar, now. Pillars don't lend to movement.
I recently read that during metamorphosis, the organs completely disintegrate, which should result in the death of the creature, but, instead, a new living body emerges. I feel like that's what has happened over the last year. My wife dragged me to a party, and I was lured with all the vices you see at these things, and I kept thinking about reporters and lawsuits and mugshots. Where has all the thrill gone. The stories I thought would sustain me in hospice. I was hosting a visitor today, and I recognized a kind of look, and there was something on my blazer, a bug or a tuft of cottonwood seed, and she brushed it off, and it sparked some memory I could almost put my fingers around, and it was so easy, easier than it has ever been, to push away. I wonder what has replaced me, standing here in this new office.
My daughter had a concert, one I was finally able to attend. How did everyone get so young all of a sudden? You've aged! someone told me recently at a meeting, after not having seen me in several years. I took it as a compliment, though tonight, watching baby-faced parents snap photographs of their viola-wielding pups, I'm not so sure. Does the brain liquefy, too, during that great and wonderful transformation? Am I suddenly a good person, now, after all my lifelong attempts at wickedness?
Students see me on campus and wave and say hello, and when I remember their names, they beam, and I feel like if I could turn around I'd see freshly sprouted wings, drying in the sun. They suffer from poverty or misunderstanding, and I take those miseries home with me. I had the worst nightmare recently, a student recriminated me with some failure, and taped her own suicide, jumping off a bridge, and just before the camera she held on her plunge recorded the impact, I had to turn away from those accusing eyes. Her ghost appeared to me in the parking lot, and she was sorry, her final act a confessed mistake, and I had to follow her to some barren afterlife to try and win her freedom. It haunted me throughout the day, and I kept asking myself if this is who I am now.
A few weeks back, I met a graduate who had been arrested a number of times, who had finally turned his life around. I emailed a reporter, told him the story, and he asked if he could speak with the former student. I called, and there was a silence on the other end of the line. I had been anticipating a rejection, but what he said was that he had been in the paper a number of times in his life, but it had never been for something good. The reporter did the story, it appeared over the weekend, and it was about regret and redemption, sorrow and hope. I slept a dreamless sleep that night.
I'm inclined to think that the procurement of a chance, be it their first, second, third, or eighth, and your role in their life would incline those with whom you interact toward something more positive than fictional recordings of terminal leaps from tall stuff. Of course, when I was nominally responsible for large groups of people, I regularly wearied myself with their welfare at the constant and sometimes debilitating detriment to my own. Hello kettle. I'm pot. You're black.
I am, however, willing to send you a card occasionally that reads, 'My God, you're awful', if that will help you maintain some sort of metaphysical equilibrium. Let me know.
I like Sir's offer of reminder cards. Sort of like the dentist appointment cards, but instead of a new toothbrush it comes with a side of self-loathing.
On the authority of mountain lakes and good whiskey, you've nothing to worry about except incriminating photos.
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