Highly Notable Events in August 2008
- Browsed wedding dress possibilities with my dearest friend Jill (her dress, not mine)
- Tuned in to coverage of the Democratic National Convention
- Tried a new Thai restaurant in Park Slope before my roommate did
- Acknowledged my compulsive need to be “the favorite”
- Visited Camp Jewell for the first time in almost five years
I started this blog five years ago today by summarizing the highly notable events of Summer 2003. For two weeks, I coded every entry in Notepad and loaded them page by page to my web space on the school server. Then my HP laptop crashed (surprise.) and I started posting to Blogger. Google had just acquired Blogger, and as an early-ish adopter, I was one of the first ‘citizens’ from outside the Googlesphere to receive a Gmail invitation. I’ll keep boasting about that even though I switched to WordPress in February 2006; and, nobody cares when I was invited to Gmail.
September. It was the time of year when new pens still smelled new and I had all kinds of plans for a school year more productive, accomplished, and fulfilling than the last. Before my notebooks got dogeared and my penmanship got sloppy. Before a leaky highlighter in the bottom of my bag bled through half of Tuesday, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on every single page of my planner.
I used to resent this time of year in this sort of subterranean way, veiled by typical complaints about the end of the summer and by the goody-two-shoes excitement to go Back to School. In my unseen heart, I considered it a mean trick. I wondered if the summer off was worth the consequence. It was a false start—a new year in September? It promised all these new chances and beginnings, but nothing seemed to change.
I remember staying up later than I’d ever stayed up on a school night before my first day of fourth grade. I was organizing my closet. Sorting troll dolls and amateur pottery. I cleaned my room like it had never been cleaned before. I thought if it looked like a Pottery Barn catalog (or like the set of Full House) when I woke up on The First Day of School, it would stay that way all year.
In the days right before the seventh grade, I dropped hints to my mom that I wanted my first real bra because the narrow straps on my First Day of School dress would expose the sports bras I usually wore. I also refused to kneel on the carpet, which is how I usually watched TV or worked on craft projects, because The Dress revealed my knees and I didn’t want them to look chafed.
Every night for three weeks before my senior year in college, I sneaked out of the house and drove into town to walk the length of Main Street and loops around the Middle School for an hour or more, sometimes into the next morning. Ever since, I’m tempted to go for a long walk when I can’t sleep. I’ve tried to think of a safe place to go in the middle of the night. At home, my biggest concerns were distrustful cops and groups of stoned teenagers. In New York, I have to wait until the gym opens at five if I need to outrun insomnia. I’ve done it before.
Outrunning—that’s what it’s always been. And when I tried to dodge bad habits, quick fix damage, or elude depression, they always caught up with me. They’ve chased me down. I decided to expunge ten years of slobbery on the night before fourth grade? Perfect timing. I had really started to believe that life worked that way; that time was defined either from one day to the next or over the span of three seasons, and never in between. Time dropped paperweights and bookends in the same spots every year until graduation.
Since my days of First Days of School, I’ve been more free to take each day as it comes. To take. Each day, individually. For what it is. As it comes. Not before. Nor after. One at a time. In chronological order. I know it sounds indifferent, like how you live when you’re just getting by. But, honestly? I would rather get through every day without walking all night just to get to it.