You write of lot of things in your life, but you do not keep most of them. As you get older, you think that the older writings are silly and stupid and babyish, and so you throw a lot of them away. In 6th and 7th grade, you write a lot of poems that rhyme, and have the same format, lots of couplets. But some of the scraps of notebook paper survived, and when you read your 6th grade self, it is crying the same cry as your 2nd grade self, and also as the 12th grade self, and the college one, and even after that too.
But in 6th grade, what you HEAR is that every kid thinks they are a great poet, and you suck just like all the rest of them, and stop being so melodramatic, and good poetry doesn’t even rhyme anymore anyway, and so… you listen, and you stop. But even if it WAS “tripe,” it was still YOUR tripe and YOUR truth and your life, and those other voices need to shut up.
And in 6th and 7th grade, the poems are titled WAR or FEAR, or another one-word title. Always one word for the title. (And at this time, when I am 28, I can not ever remember writing a single poem in my whole life that had a longer title, but I suppose it is possible.)
And your 7th grade voice writes these lines:
Small shrunken oceans slide down his cheek,
Restoring the yesterday’s linger and reek
Caked with mud, brittle and dry,
The eyelid recoils away from the eye
Fighting to stand in a world that knocks down,
They shove him into the gutter, in hopes that he’ll drown
They deny his existence, repulsed at the sight,
Quick! Blink away from this child of night.
One drop of frozen happiness in a pool of rapid change,
Then whispered words of the unspeakable—all jumbled and deranged
The mottled darkness in the background declares it’s presence with strangled screams,
With teeth of icy terror, it shreds and tears apart your dreams
Drunken evil stumbles in, with it’s pocked and bloody face,
Raises innocence up to it’s lips and savors in the fleshy taste
Black rain robs imagination of it’s last gentle breath,
Sluiced down into the slimy muck, condemning it to death
Curved lightning dips and swirls in a pale-gray liquid sky,
Silenced by the roaring clouds, the voices cease to cry.
(You were in a Dean Koontz phase, and you stole all of his adjectives.)
And today, is a couple decades later.
And you cringe when you read those early poems, because you are still very hard on yourself, and can’t stand it when you feel silly and stupid. So you still feel a very strong urge to crumple up the paper, and ERASE! ERASE! ERASE!
Because why should you make allowances just because you were 12?
But today is not making allowances, so calm down, it is just about accepting your life, even all the parts that make you cringe to look at.
And today is trying to find the motivation to write another word, when you feel sulky in the knowledge that Amanda-in-ten-years is going to cringe at this....
And, too-day, is remembering that first day. when you had the can-never-escape-stupidness thought... and today is wondering how your life would be different if that thought had never infected your head to plague you...
is that day. And you are in second grade.
And you are the line leader.
And you feel smug and prance-y about it. Because being the line-leader is a Very Big Deal. And you are basking in the fun of being in charge.
Your line is now passing by a line of Kindergartners going the opposite way, and you jut your chin in a most superior fashion, and think about what babies Kindergartners are. One girl has her dress caped around her head, and EVERYONE can see her underwear.
You are so much smarter than those babies.
And that is where the gloat chokes you, because next, you see some fifth graders.
And one looks at you.
And the look is very similar to the one you just gave the Kindergartners...
And you see that you look just as dumb to them!!!! And this is not a good thought. You realize that you will probably not be smart in 5th grade either, because there will just be more kids older than you. And you think about how you felt in pre-first, and you notice that at the time, you did not know you were stupid at all! In fact, you felt quite smart!
IN FACT, you felt almost EXACTLY the way you feel now.
And this thought is close to despair, because you realize that every moment you exist, no matter how good it is, it will at some point seem silly and pale in the future. And you will never ever EVER escape Kindergarten (even though you went to pre-first instead), you will still be stuck there forever, no matter how old and wrinkly you get, or even if you live to be a million, you will still be there, and every single moment of Present will always be weak and stupid, because the Past always is, and you can’t escape the Present becoming the Past.
You think that maybe if you could freeze time in a good moment, then you might be ok... but that does not seem likely, and the Future feels destined to shame you.