Photo: Mike Cottle
"Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by you so quick you hardly catch it going."-Tennessee Williams
My existential crisis continues.
I realize I have lost friends since I've moved to Michigan. My life is not long enough to keep them all. I have not continued to follow my friends' paths; I don't know what woods they find themselves in--I cannot take the same inroads to catch up. The grasses have grown up so tall and I can't whack enough weeds down, so I am going a different way.
In the quiet moments, when I am knitting to the hum of the refrigerator, I think about the few people I've known who have died. I wonder about them; do they raise a glass for me, wherever they are? Or are they now so far along their roads that they cannot look back and find me here, sitting in my living room at daybreak, catching yarn between my needles, flipping my skeins this way and that? While I wonder about them, I smile. I put that smile into my garment, and hope that my finishing techniques do them justice.
I think about my other friends often. What are they doing right now? Have I been replaced by newer, more exciting counterparts? Are my friends laughing or crying? Are they going on exotic vacations or fixing the roofs of their homes? Are they getting married? Perhaps some of them have become alcoholics. Maybe a few have broken up with longtime partners. Maybe some of them are extremely wealthy--maybe they are bankrupt. Does Maria still ride her motorcycle (ah, the long rides we would take in summer, the smell of cottonwood and baked asphalt in the Georgia heat, the shimmering skies above the hills, and the curves of Hwy. 118)?
There is only time and memory behind me, and only time in front of me. I am absent without my friends--my existence is only validated by others--the comings and goings of relationships. Otherwise, it would be only quietness. So, I am quiet for my friends, wherever they may be, wherever they may go, whatever memories they make.
I think I'll take up drop-spindling and watch roving become yarn, dropped to the floor, threading up like the Fates' linens. There, I will find myself, contemplating the simple act of time, spreading around my feet.
This next stitch, then, shall be for my friends. The one after shall be for me. The following one shall be for the world. Then I shall make a stitch in time, too.
Suddenly, I find myself 29 years old. Merciful heavens, but I am aging.
There is this urge to reconnect, to look up people online and find out what all has been accomplished. So I get to moving: I sign up on three different 'networking' sites and browse by high school and college class and bam. I get what I ask.
Pictures and blogs and citings and mishaps and photos and travels and babies and grad schools--people have been mightily industrious while I've been sitting around. People have been doing things. In fact, I'm aghast at how grown up we all are--that, in of itself, is a feat which I never considered. And so I sit, glancing at photos, a voyeur of these high school fellows. I am not much different now as I was then, staring at people walking down hallways, musing about their lives and hairstyles. Constantly comparing myself to their achievements and reckonings. So-and-so is in France, so-and-so is a lawyer and a social worker and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and in her spare time, she knits sweaters for children in Mongolia.
I live in Detroit with a wonderful husband and a cat. I work forty hours a week at a job that is mildly interesting. After that, I am home, knitting or gardening or drinking coffee. This past weekend, Michael and I went to Chicago and did tourist-y things. That was the most thrilling thing we've done since last February, when we moved to this Godforsaken part of the world (N.B. I do
I'm having an existential crisis, thanks to these damnable networking sites. Today, I joined Weight Watchers. Next week, I'm going to a Buddhist temple in order to master the refined art of deprivation and meditation. Next month, I'm enrolling in a graduate program (of what study, I know not. I just have to have more education). Three months from now, I'll be pregnant and learning how to trim topiary. In thirteen months, I will be in Indonesia (baby strapped to my breast), learning Sanskrit and strange yoga poses. One year from now, I will be on the cover of Time Magazine (husband and baby in tow), featured for solving the world's global food crisis (kitchen gardens, duh).
Maybe then, I can face the past.
But the teachings of the Yogis proclaim I must guard myself from these thoughts--these misconceptions of the importance (or unimportance) of my own life. All of these things seem totally egocentric. So: I will meditate. I will try to control my food instead of my food controlling me. I will smile more and have faith in my smile. And maybe (just maybe) I'll think about going back to school. But most importantly, I will love and respect myself.
I will look forward to seeing me in the mirror, and giving to that person as I would anyone else. God is good. Hamas
. I am That.
I'm ALL that, and a bag of chips.