The fireworks have just started outside because it doesn’t get really dark until ten this time of year, and I should get ready for bed soon. I didn’t go to work yesterday either and I’ve spend the parts of the weekend when I wasn’t hanging out with fun people and barbecuing or having brunch or checking out the Madrona Cupcake Royale location (verdict: the Ballard one is better. Obviously.) going to Target for packing supplies and making comprehensive lists and spreadsheets and packing some of my stuff up, although I won’t be really out of the house until next week. I haven’t spoken to another human being today…wait, no. When I took a walk to Sunset Park this afternoon wearing my full pack (verdict: REALLY DAMN HEAVY) my next-door neighbor, who I just met today after a year of living here, asked where I was going. And then Matt came up with some of our blueberry harvest. But, yeah, still. I’ve spent most of today alone and going through my stuff and labeling boxes and noticing that here I am, moving for the third time in three summers.
When I was a kid Fourth Of July as a very big deal on the island, with a parade with floats and I think possibly a picnic afterward, although of course the current village green, where they hold it now, was all trees back then so maybe not. I was in the parade several times that I can recall: once with my Brownie troop and another time with…uh, the community theater? Ashley and Amy and I think Marah (and Manya?) and I were all flowers or something, and we wore big foam flower head things and had leaves instead of arms. There were hand gestures and a song we had to sing, if I recall correctly. Even when we were older, even when we came home from college, we’d go to the parade and see our sixth grade teacher (hi Mrs. Yehle!) and Manya’s dad would be working the hamburger booth or something. One time I went with Mom and walking the three blocks from the house to the parade route took about an hour because she kept getting stopped by the thousands of grown-up kids who’d been in her classes over the last twenty years.
But since I moved to Seattle Fourth of July has either been sort of eh or, frankly, outright heinous. Two years ago I moved for awful reasons that almost killed me, although I now think sort of fondly about that move because I turned out to meet some very good friends that weekend, some of whom I went to prom with. A couple years before that, though, Fourth Of July was really terrible for me, and put some prosaically painful events in motion that have only started to resolve this past April. Since I’m being annoying and not giving details there’s no way to properly divulge how many good things that resolution has brought to my life lately. But, ugh, I can still see myself that summer evening six years ago, with my old wire-rimmed glasses and my long split-endy hair and ill-fitting tank top, listening to the fireworks on my solitary drive home from a party at which I could not stay, having no idea of the denouement that would come to me more than half a decade later, and I kind of want to cry. It’s that sort of thing that makes me grateful when nothing bad happens on this federally-mandated holiday. I’ll happily accept a lack of a barbecue and having to do a lot of laundry on this day every year from now on if I just never have to feel that horrible gnawing sick-to-my-stomach feeling that I can so perfectly recall, even after all these years.
Oh, that’s another thing, obscure personal references aside. I came across some old pre-my-having-access-to-a-digital-camera pictures while I was beginning to clean out my closet the other day and I made the mistake of sitting down and looking through them when I should have just chucked them into a box and have done with it. But no. I went through them all…me as a bridesmaid, Anna and Rob at their very first drag beauty pageant, my mom in a kayak in the Montlake Cut…and ended up having to turn them all face-down and lay on the floor for a while and think about…everything, I guess.
We all change all the time, every day, so it’s probably facile to observe that, boy, I have really changed since those pictures were taken! Yesterday at breakfast Katherine and I were talking about how our styles have changed in the ten years we’ve known each other and she mentioned that I used to be quite a frump. In the pictures I can see my shirts get smaller and tighter and my hair get shorter and cuter (although it’s still as fuzzy as it ever was). But also I kept seeing the people who were just outside the frame of the camera, and I kept thinking about what pictures weren’t being taken, sort of like when I went through the archives.Not pictured: walking around by myself outside during the wedding, wondering if I would ever get engaged. Not pictured: feeling like I could never fit in with people I admired so much and had nothing in common with. Not pictured: my mom telling me that my grandmother has Alzheimer’s and that she can’t come to spend a couple of weeks with me as she’d planned. I kept thinking about the person I was at twenty-one or twenty-six or twenty-eight or however old I was when the pictures were taken, and wondering how she got to be the person I am now at thirty-one. I wondered if she’d recognize me now, if who I am today will recognize the person I’ll be at thirty-five or thirty-eight or forty-one.
Wish I knew what you were looking for, says the song I’m listening to right now; might have known what you would find. I’m just in a maudlin mood tonight. Packing up dishes and putting old clothes on the Value Village pile and going through pictures will do that, I guess. I keep telling myself that this is a good thing, that it’s exciting, that I am moving for a really great reason, that if I can just get through this last week of saying goodbye in Seattle, and then a week saying goodbye in New York, and then the week that’s really going to kill me, the one saying goodbye in the Bay Area…if I can just get through these next weeks, I’ll get to sit on a beach in Fiji with a book and do nothing except hang out in a hammock and learn to scuba dive if I feel like it. And then I’ll make it to Auckland and there will be someone to meet me at the airport and then probably I will head down to Wellington and then, really, who knows. Probably I’ll stay the same but maybe I thought that when all those paper pictures were taken, too, and look what happened there.
These are going to be some good weeks for me, I know, but all the same I find myself wanting to fast forward past this in-between time, straight to the novelty and adventure parts of this story that feels like is taking forever to unfold. But I never can. I have to live out every minute, every second, every bursting rocket that splits apart the dark and every treacherous memory that lies in wait underneath the piles of things I’d forgot I even had anymore.