I love how at the end of a rainy day, the sun shoots through the breaking clouds, just above the horizon, just below the gun metal grey clouds, just touching the tops of the trees.
I drove down Springvale Rd after a long time, I’d forgotten all the landmarks. On the Freeway the sun finally escaped and lit the clouds gold from behind. I twas so beautiful I nearly swerved into other lanes for the sake of a photo from my dying phone camera. Handover meeting for my role a a Youth Coordinator for a service organisation I’ve been part of since I was 17. I was late, it was ok, we sat on a silk carpet in a house I’ve been coming to for years, the home of one of the future coordinators. 17 years I’ve been part of this youth group, milling in and out of it when I pleased from that time, when it began as a small meeting of a few people with a beloved family friend heading it up. I’ve watched it grow, I’ve watched it change, ebbing, flowing: the best seemed to be in 2003 when we began to come into our own. The zenith was 2006, though we didn’t know it then. 2010 was a final thank you. But a glorious one. We’ve struggled to hold it together for two years, the most difficult time for the organisation. It’s someone else’s turn now, a new generation. Good luck to them.
Why is it you only work out how to do something when it’s over? It seems to be my curse. I’ve been sheltered by this group since i left high school, never fully escaping, never full growing up. I can’t imagine being too old for it – the cut off is 35 – but it’s already past my time. I found myself crying at the thought of leaving. Most of my peers, those my age have moved on already, marriage, children, whatever. I don’t know what adulthood looks like without it: one of the best things I have ever worked for: truly purely free of politics, the pure will of young people to do the right thing for the right reasons, by the best means. There was no argument and jostling for position – well, maybe there was – but the atmosphere, the outcome, the desire and execution was perfect. I will never see its like again. It is the provenance of youth. And now I sound very young 😉
I didn’t expect to be doing this at 35, I thought I would leave sooner – drop in and out of the wider organisation. But here I am still treading the same paths. I didn’t expect this to be 35: I did not expect to spend so much of my life alone. That still surprises me, that there was never anyone long term to share parts of my life. I have always travelled alone, only a few trips overseas with friends, even then I still spent most of it alone. I wonder if I’m too fucked in the head to ever form a real connection with someone. I worry about being too old for it, I worry about missing chances – I gave up a few – I worry about being 40 and childless. Yet I know that our worst fears will come true if we entertain them. I am better at not thinking about it now.
I feel like I sleep-walked my life and now am waking up. I wish I had recognised my self-esteem issues sooner, I wish I had seen a psych 10 years ago. Perhaps things would have been different. I learn my lessons slowly and to me it seems, always too late. But I also feel like things come in their time. Things I hardly dared to dream of I’ve done. I am grateful. I am grateful I could travel while I could afford it. I’ll never be done travelling. But so many trips were perfect – Norway and London at 25, Vietnam with my oldest friends, Hawaii, the place where you can watch the sun rise and set on the ocean. And America. Brooklyn’s dusty streets, lined with Senegalese immigrants, being taken to a Carribean take away with a journalist friend, meeting Teju Cole in a beautiful bookshop, wandering New York for the first time and thinking it was my true home.
Got to buckle down now. It’s just work and home and work and will be for a while. But one has to try and enjoy it. That was what I got wrong all this time – you have to make a routine for yourself every day, and enjoy it, enjoy the minutes and the hours. Haphhazard chaos and spontaneity don’t cut it, long term.
I don’t know what life will look like a few years time I don’t dream too much now, but I am not too scared to face it as much. There’s no time left to be scared.