Lately, in the middle of the night while I’m trying to fall back asleep between feedings, I’ve been kept awake longer than I want to thinking about the past. Last night I was thinking about my time in graduate school. It’s a lot like now: I lived in the Bay Area, I visit many of the places I visited, I walk the some of the same paths, take some of the same buses and trains, see some of the same people. But it is so far away from this moment that even though I graduated at the end of 2009, I can sometimes barely remember it.

Maybe it was the stress of that time. I was functioning at a pretty high rate of output with a pretty low rate of input. I worked full time, went to school full time, read many many books, wrote many many papers, and then I also wrote my own book. I still don’t really understand how that happened and how I didn’t drown. But maybe that is why I barely remember it – there was just way too many things to catalog. And then last night I missed it, I missed it so much I ached for it.

Random Friday nights at Fly Bar with Naomi. I remember meeting a group of solar panel technicians. I don’t know why I remember that, and yet I can’t remember some of my favorite people’s names.

The way it felt to sit on a nearly empty bus at 5-something in the evening, throwing itself down Balboa. Then seeing John get on at his stop, walk through the bus and sit by me, and being grateful we were friends.

The “Portal of Learning.”

The way ink on warm paper smells fresh from the printer after making many, many copied pages.

Naomi’s jeans. I never thought I would ever be as cool as her.

A heated discussion about the word “swarthy.”

And then a few weeks ago I was kept up remembering all of the people who have come and then gone again. My social world ebbs and flows. Sometimes I have a lot of people to see and visit and invite over. Sometimes that number dwindles down to a handful. It goes with the tide and it doesn’t always mean something particular. But there are some people I wish were still around, some people that I had every intention of really, really liking and then I ended up … not. There are relationships that could have been amazing, but life happens and distance makes thing impossible. These are relationships of all kinds, amazing women who I miss, horrible people I am glad are not in my sphere, men I loved and hated and loved some more, the people who I wanted to be friends with who were not so much interested in me. Sometimes I have the best of intentions and I mess it up regardless.

So many chapters. I am in a new one right now and it is great! Life is humming and things are good. But I still wish I could revisit the old ones, the chapters that closed without me even realizing it, the people who slipped away or who I  very regrettably don’t have time for. Sometimes I am sad that all of the things can’t happen all at the same time in a big swirl. The good and the bad and the ugly. The busy and the relaxed. The family and the friends, the early twenties and the late, I want it all like a glutton for experiences. I want to stuff my face with all the stuff I have already done and all the things I’m doing now. I want to feel it all just as it felt then, except this time knowing it will all be ok, this time being able to revel in the silliness or the joy without zooming past it on to the next thing, the next to-do list item, or the next chapter.

Time is nothing. We make it up as we go along. It doesn’t move faster or slower at any given moment. Except it does.

9 thoughts on “Chapters”

  1. Umm yes, I totally get you. I remember 2004 like it was yesterday and 2008 like it was ages ago. Sometimes I think of the girl I was and I am in awe at all the things I was doing.
    It is hard to deal with remembering people you have lost contact with, even in this Facebook era, you know, those ones you wish you had kept in touch with and now you can not bring them back.
    At the same time there are the ones that you know will stay with you, with whom you can talk for ages even after not having been in touch for long periods of time.

  2. This is exactly how I feel sometimes. I lie awake, thinking about some chapters of my past, wishing that there were parallel universes where I could play out all the different scenarios that didn’t get played out in real life. But at the same time, I am happy with the choices I’ve made, or at least I am happy that those choices (however awful some of them may have been) got me to where I am now.

  3. I said to the hubs this past weekend, if I had a time machine, I would just go back and relive all of my favorite moments. That’s the main reason I want to teleport/time travel, not to change anything but just to visit experiences, like you would visit another country.

  4. I think there are some periods in our lives that are just so pivotal that they become indelibly written in our souls. Of course it’s the oddest details sometimes that stand out.

    One of the theories that helps me accept how wily time can be is that time is a construct of our subjective experiences. It’s part of the framework we use to understand the world.

  5. I just graduated today and have been meaning to write you an email and thank you for your advice when I first started. This post came at just the right moment for me and I was so glad to read it. I’m fascinated by the way time moves for us, and how we turn the pages on different parts of our lives.

  6. And all too soon, those things and moments that seem to last forever are gone. In a fleeting second you were born, an infant. a teen and now a mother. Did it all happen that fast? Looking back at it….it seems so. Love you tons. Db

  7. This made my heart ache so much. You wrote beautifully. I feel this exact same way most of the time and dream about people from my past more often than I’d line to admit. If only we knew we were living in the “good old days” when we were in them, huh?

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