“So basically now you know all my secrets.” I nervously laughed. I had begun to feel incredibly self conscious of the fact that although I had just barely begun to know this person, they now knew my Great Grandmothers name, my fathers entire life story, my biggest fear, my favorite songs, my guilty pleasures. I know this is how getting to know someone generally goes, but I often find myself hitting the fast forward button, a get-to-know-each-other game on speed. The words tumble out one after the other and I am weaving story upon story upon story as if the 4th quarter buzzer is about to ring.
When I was 18 I thought I loved someone. We had known each other for years, and yet I decided this within a twenty four hour period of us discussing everything under the sun. I wanted them to know everything about me, every detail, every thought and feeling. I wanted him to encompass everything that had ever happened to me, so that it was packaged and held together tightly by one central element, one that I could hold on to. This is impossible of course, and like the stories I neurotically shoved towards him, he too is just a memory. I learned to control the ebb and flow of all these parts of my identity that seemed to come spilling out of me, to work on being patient and content.
Patience is a virtue when you grow up in extremes and absolutes. I have vivid memories of packing boxes and closing doors on homes that would hold and seal entire chapters of my childhood within them. Doors you could never reenter, you could only take a final peek through the window at those hollow rooms, those hollow rooms with the blank white walls covered in tiny holes from where your pictures used to hang. There was no way back, and the only way to give those things meaning was to talk about them, to write about them, to share them with strangers you would meet in the next place. And then do it all over again.
People always ask, “wasn’t it hard moving around having to make new friends all the time?” There really is no easy way to answer that. I loved the experiences afforded me by this nomadic lifestyle, and honestly the question is pretty much irrelevant. Of course there was difficulty, just like everyone feels anxiety on the first day of school. There were good things and bad things, as there usually are with such experiences. I never disliked making new friends, I only ever hated leaving my other friends behind. I never rejected the new, but I ached for the familiar. I hated the feeling that these lives would never overlap, a splintered life – no one was ever in the same photograph, which is why I would plaster the walls of each bedroom in dozens of images of the people and places I loved, in massive collages so that their edges touched and blurred. “I haven’t forgotten you,” Is what I wanted to tell them, and what I subconsciously hoped others were thinking about me. The difficult part was being acutely aware of the quick passing of time, the steady slip of the seconds, this subtly sickening feeling that we were all living out our lives stuck on separate timelines. For the sake of sanity, my fear of the temporary and by extension my ability to make every second count, sometimes morphed into a neurosis. I couldn’t stand the thought of a moment missed, I wanted everyone to know everything about me and I wanted them to know it now – before we were abruptly placed in each others pasts .
So as I divulge all my secrets to those that hold my intrigue in bars and restaurants and midnight walks, I want myself to slow, to drag out every breath until it lasts for eternity. I am so happy here, sublimely happy. The kind of happy that allows one to sit quietly and comfortably in a room full of people. The weight of the stories and memories that form my identity momentarily feel light and delicate as a bubble that sits on the sea’s surface, and I am not ready for it to burst. I am content with the temporary, find pleasure in it even, and for now the tick of the clock has slowed to match the steady rhythm of my pulse.