Monday, October 14, 2013

Past: Ahh! (Without Meatballs)


It's official: as per my recently adopted lifestyle, I am creating a routine schedule for Livin' L.A. Vida Local. Unlike my menstrual cycle, blog posts will now occur on a regular basis. You can expect them to happen once a week, like my murdering sprees. I feel this decision will make everyone happier, because now you'll know exactly when to expect a post instead of anxiously pacing back and forth in front of your computer, combating the overpowering compulsion to just keep hitting the 'refresh' button over and over and over again, searching for a Facebook link that never comes. And as for me, I'll commit to keep writing because now I'll know exactly when I'm supposed to drop these little internet-writing nuggets into the universe, and maybe I'll even hold myself to that promise. Just like the promise that I'd never kill again...

So last week was crazy, just like the week before it, and just like the week ahead. Highlights included airbrushing my first Halloween cake (which I totally fucked up), researching "family-friendly cabaret performances in Paris" for my internship, and visiting old friends from high school whom I haven't seen in four years.

That was a trip. Ever since graduation this sort of thing keeps happening, where I serendipitously hear from or bump into people from "the past." Christmas isn't for another two months, so at least I know I'm not trapped in some sort of Ebeneezer Scrooge situation.

I also know because no matter how greedy I try to be, I'm still poor.
In this scenario, I hit up my old best friend from high school (pseudonym "Kristy") because I saw on the ol' FB that she was in LA. Turns out she's been here a few weeks, having just graduated from UC Santa Barbara and moved out to the city to pursue a career in acting. I visited her at the uber-chic downtown restaurant where she just began working, trying to wrap my mind around how someone could arrange their modestly-posh LA set-up so quickly. I mean, it took me like a solid two months of sitting in my underwear while sending out resumes before I got a steady job. So I think she deserves a major "u g0 Giir1" because she seems to be doing something right.

Could it have been the pants?
And then, as randomly as I had reached out to her, a mutual friend (pseudonym "Jade") hit me up right around the same time saying she was in LA as well. This is a little less surprising since she went to UCLA, but still, after four years she got buried amidst my extensive mental catalog of friendships. So in a quite wonderful turn of events she also came to the restaurant, where there were delicious garlic fries, flat breads, gourmet brownies and booze had by all... except for Kristy, because she was our server.

And Kristy told Jade and I that yet ANOTHER friend was in LA, and apparently had been for a number of years... completely unbeknownst to me and probably a fair number of others. So Jade and I popped across the street after dinner to briefly say hi. We caught him at a bad time, because it was a Friday night at a massive and insanely popular LA restaurant whose name I will not disclose. Your hint, however, is: macaroon trees. GO.

So at dinner, Kristy, Jade and I did a lot of catching up, which I'll admit is difficult to adequately do when three girls are trying to abridge four years of significant life events over the course of one meal. The good news is that, hey, we're all local now, so there will be many more opportunities to get nitty-gritty in the future.

And come to think of it, we actually spent the bulk of the evening thinking back on other people we went to school with, giving reports of what we heard or knew about their lives. Oddly enough, a vague, churning gut-feeling of alienation and "wow holy shit what is going on right now" arose not from seeing these two girls' faces for the first time in four years, but of hearing about the lives of the people who weren't there. There were so many people whose existences I had utterly forgotten... random trivia about high school social drama that returned to me in waves... it was like traveling to a strange new plane of existence cohabited by the past and the present. It was... so strange. On the whole the evening was pleasant and enjoyable; it was very cool to see how things seemed "business as usual" for Jade and Kristy. I guess I was anticipating they might have drastically changed and I wouldn't know how to deal, but we fell back into the groove pretty seamlessly.

However, there were parts of the evening that might have gotten too real for me. The parts where I began hearing some of the not-so-pleasant-and-enjoyable things that have happened to other peers since 2009. Not everyone went through the cookie-cutter machine in my mind that turned everybody into an upstanding college graduate with a business degree. It was surreal to find out that people-- people I knew-- people I know-- flunked out of college, or never went to college, or got married and settled down, or went to jail, or were homeless, or went missing altogether. In many cases, I found out that people failed.

And that really, really freaked me out.

Because I feel like I haven't been alive long enough to fail. And of course, the same is true for these other people who I'm inconsiderately belittling by making an example of-- but Jesus Christ, it just felt like we were all on the same trajectory when we were going to the same school. The years following high school graduation really drew out the discrepancies between each of us. She's having a baby, he's getting his PhD, they're still together after 7 years, and I'm decorating cakes. What is going on?!?

I guess the reunion triggered a miniature episode of mortal awareness. The passage of time had never seemed so... concrete. Real. I mean, in the scope of existence, four years isn't a lot of time. But a lot actually happens in that chunk of temporal space; enough to where we start using language like, "so-and-so 'wound up'..." Wound up?? Who's winding up anywhere?! If people my age have "wound up" doing things and being things, then that means I have, too! It means that somewhere, in some other restaurant, some little group of former high school peers are asking, "Do you guys know what ever happened to J-Mil?" And I'd be very interested to hear the answer. It would be the past four years of my life appraised in a single sentence. The logline of my progress as a human being.

This existential spiral haunted me for all of about 24 hours before I got swept back up into the whole routine of day to day life and went on my merry way, which, frankly, I gotta say I prefer. It's sort of a shitty feeling to be that aware. Taking things a day or a week at a time seems like a better way to live, as long as some end goal is glittering in the distance. The simpletons who clog Facebook with inspirational photos of skinny white chicks dancing on the beach at sunset beneath the quote "Live in the moment <3" might actually possess some merit within their gaseous clout of pseudo-profundities.

Oh man, I totally will now that I've seen this.
That is such a valuable insight.
Nothing more profound has ever been said by anyone ever.
I will remember that for the next time I take balloons to the beach.
Maybe... maybe.
This quote changed my life, so it's fitting that it was paired with the greatest photo ever taken.
Well, I don't know about you guys, but all these pictures of the beach at sunset have made me want to go out and live life to the fullest. So I'm going to go make a bowl of cereal using peanut butter instead of milk and watch maybe 3/4ths of one of the movies in my Netflix queue.

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