Last night, I was at a gala event to check out the music of someone I’d recently interviewed, and I had a bit of time to myself before we met up. There was a band playing onstage and so I reverted to what I usually do when I’m by myself: play sudoku on my phone. But then I thought to myself, you’re at a gala with really good music in front of you — why don’t you put your phone away and stay in the moment for once?
So I did. I listened to the band, and watched the people around me. They were roughly my age, or up to about 15 years older. And while I was watching them, I was struck with that same feeling I’ve had so many times before when I’m at events where people are dressed up pretty fancy. It’s that feeling of experiencing the past and present simultaneously, of seeing people both how they are now and what they were like as children.
As the men in suits and women in cocktail dresses fluttered by, wrapped up in their own conversations (and some not, but standing close together in awkward silence because it seemed like a better alternative than being alone), I was looking at them but seeing the children from my youth.
One man stood in front of me, suit tailored to fit just so, hair cut neatly at the nape of his neck, beard carefully combed. I’d never seen him before in my life, but I wondered, How did the little boy who sat beside me in Gr.3 grow into him? And studying another well-dressed, handsome man on the couch, I was thinking to myself, This kid I used to play handball with never had that much hair on his chest.
What are the paths we take in life to get us from rambunctious little tots to self-sustaining adults? How do you draw a map for the kid who sticks glue on her hand, holding it outstretched with fingers splayed until the glue dries and can be peeled off in one sheet, so she becomes a woman with a svelte figure and killer fashion sense? Who are these people? And where did they come from?
As kids, we can’t really fathom where our lives will take us. Sure, we dream about what we’ll be when we grow up, but trying to look that far ahead in the future when we’re not even aware of how much we’ll be changing is next to impossible; you may as well ask the handball-playing boy to grow a beard before recess is over.
It feels like there’s a big gap in my life from the time I was a kid to where I am today. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not really in contact with anyone I went to school with or because life becomes harder to remember as you live more of it, but it seems as though there are two stark periods in my life: when I was dependent on others, and when I wasn’t.
Does anyone else feel the same?