Wednesday, July 8, 2015

the one where she went to California (part 2).

Santa Barbara (2015)

About a month or so ago, I became utterly determined to write a letter. I wanted to get all these thoughts and emotions swirling around in the "angry" part of my brain out, or at least move them to the part of my brain reserved for "the past." That part of my brain doesn't harbor any resentment or anything; it's just a place where certain memories go that have nothing to do with the present, and while they may have been nice (or upsetting or whatever) at the time, they're just memories now that don't bring about any emotions necessarily.

Anyways, I sat down to write this letter and in the midst of writing it, I felt something shift inside of my brain. Those words that were pouring out of my pen were emptying from the part of my brain I didn't want to keep them in anymore. It felt freeing and lovely, and I never gave the person I was writing to the letter, but that was OK because it wasn't so much about the other person as it was about me needing to understand where I stood on everything that had happened between us.

Which is what this blog was supposed to be about, but now that I've had a bit more time to reflect and a handful of thoughts collected on the subject, I think I'm in a better place to write.

The first photo I took from my NYC living room in Jan. 2012

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It can feel like a warm hug as you wrap yourself in memories that make you smile, or it can be a bucket of cold water as you watch happier days pass you by in your sadness.

Somewhere above Redding, 2011
It's amazing when we can grow with our memories and not be held back by them at all. I used to regret not staying close to some of my grade school friends through high school, but I think it's easy to become friends with someone in one setting and not have it sustain as you both change as people. It doesn't mean there was a falling out or that we aren't friends anymore. We've just changed as people. That's OK. Dodie said it best in her recent vlog about the past: "People grow up and people might change, but I really do believe that the foundations of what makes someone someone will stay with them."

My closest friends today know me as a different person than the one my closest friends from four or even from eight years ago know. But we're all really the same person, deep down. We're all just works in progress, meeting with and parting ways from other works in progress on a daily basis. 

(This is also explored in the Wong Fu film Everything Before Us, and there's my shameless plug for it, if you haven't already seen it. Watch it.)

What does this have to do with my recent trip to California, you ask? Lately, I'd been feeling that the person I am in California versus the person I am in New York is very different. I hadn't spent much time back home consecutively to really feel it, but on this recent 10-day trek around Southern California, I felt it more than ever.

Long Beach (2015)
It began a month ago with not giving the letter I wrote to the person in question, but instead having a conversation instead, which turned out to be much more meaningful and productive than I thought it would be. We reminisced about the past and about places we'd gone and things we'd done. And it was fun because those moments were fun, and sometimes it's easy to trick yourself into thinking those things weren't so fun because you can't remember what it's like to associate "fun" with someone you were so hurt by. 

At the end of it all, I walked away feeling something I hadn't felt before: it was the warm breath of nostalgia that lingers for the moment of your interaction with the person from the past, but then moves on once you part ways to let you continue on with your life. That was weird for me because up until that moment, nostalgic recollections with this person had ended with me wondering why things changed and when they changed, and wondering if it was worth it at all to be friends as the changed people we had become.

But I had been focusing on the wrong things. I wanted so badly to believe we had changed too much to ever be near one another again. I let my stubborn beliefs keep me from being honest about my anger, which in turn kept me from being free. If I had given that letter, it would've been another expression of anger that would've just kept circling back to the front of my mind. Instead, I forgave--not for the other person's relief, but for my own peace of mind--and I let it go

And this time, going back to Southern California, I wasn't reminded of all of the things I did wrong or the words I never said or the moments I threw in the back of a closet because it scared or upset me. This time, I was present. I was breathing in new moments and exhaling forgotten dreams. Because I hadn't been doing that over the last few years, the path in my brain that moves emotions and memories from one part to another has been cluttered with junk I used to try to find answers to why certain friendships and relationships come and other ones go. I carried that junk across the country, and only now--four years later--am I sweeping up. I'm finding some clarity now.

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