Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Who I Was vs. Who I Am

I can't believe I'm posting this picture

First I stumbled, but that got boring, so I started to click "Random Wikipedia Entry" over and over again. I learned a lot about small towns in Ethiopia and a Chinese man who became a Muslim leader. After that I decided to Google things. I typed in my name + my hometown to see if there were any silly high school memories I felt like reveling in.

Instead, I was confronted with the specter of Who I Was in High School.

A friend of mine, who I had gotten close to particularly junior and senior year, penned this little gem on their Livejournal for me to unfortunately discover 3 years later. Even though it is awful and hurtful and hits me in a place where most insults don't dare to venture, I'm going to post it, because it'll help my point later:

jess roy, a supposedly intelligent person (in the opinion of adults with psychometric tests, whatever that means), explains political ideas she doesn't understand, poetry and culture she cannot fathom and ideas she can't pronounce.

This is true to some extent; I'm not going to flat out lie and claim that I was supremely cultured and intelligent in high school. I grew up in the suburbs and I was pissed off about my parents' divorce and I did a lot of drugs because I was just really sad about everything. I didn't visit Europe until after I graduated and no, my parents didn't beat me, and no, I didn't watch a family member die in a fiery car crash, but I did experience a lot of bad things most of my friends didn't. I probably thought that gave me more leverage to explore the "political ideas, poetry, and culture" that this person so joyfully pointed out.

And no, I didn't entirely understand the implications of On the Road or the nuances that allow me to now despise how Kerouac treated women; but I read the book, and most 15 year olds can't really claim that. And yes, I loved Garden State, I saw it in the theatre three times, but it had nothing to do with the word "indie," a concept I never even really thought about until I came to college.

Why do I feel like I'm defending myself? I guess I am. I am because I'm constantly at odds with Who I Was and Who I Am. Who I Was may have been a smidgen like what this person wrote in their Livejournal in 2005, but it was not all of me. I was not a grade grubber (I probably got some of the worst grades out of all of my friends) and I was interested in a world outside of our suburban bubble. Perhaps I couldn't fully understand it because I had a lot more anger than someone that age should, and admittedly, though my life wasn't hard, it definitely wasn't easy for reasons I will not explain here.

Part of me is all, "This was three years ago! Grow up! Why are you so fucking sensitive?" Well, I'm sensitive because my ability to be this Cultured New Yorker is kind of all I have. I mean, isn't this blog based on political and cultural ideas? Do I not spend hours and hours analyzing them? Obviously this would hit me where it hurts, because if I don't have that, what the fuck do I have?

I'm just trying to be honest. I will probably hit publish and completely regret it. I will probably wake up in the middle of the night and fret over this stupid thing someone who didn't even know me said about me THREE YEARS AGO. But I can't let it go because one, besides being neurotic I'm also a masochist and I keep obsessing over it in my mind, and two, I think this is important.

Sometimes who we are in high school haunts us for the rest of our lives. Sometimes it follows us home like a dog in the night, yapping at our heels. It constantly nags us like a Jewish Grandma who hasn't eaten in a few hours. I could put another metaphor in here, but I think I may have overdone it.

But the point is this: we can mature and evolve and become a better version of ourselves, but I will always be that outcast in BoHo chic clothes (lolz) who got into beat poetry because I liked the inherent escapism and the idea of being drunk on a flatbed truck, and then got written about on a high school Livejournal because I was 17 and couldn't relate to Jack Kerouac.

-Jess

3 comments:

Marshall said...

That's quite an ending. Also be glad you never 'got' ON THE ROAD, I think it's something you get right before you die of exposure in a field in Ohio, or you know, gutshot and left in the desert to die.

Marshall said...

It's also probably the most absurdly male thing ever written. Other than that livejournal.

Alex said...

It's like in 10 Things I Hate About You where the teacher yells at Kat (I'm aiming that you've seen the movie at least ten times) for being a whiny suburbanite girl who complains about lunch meat.

People judge without the full story. Or even when they have the full story, they think your frustrations are merely lunch meat.

When it comes down to it, who we were in high school doesn't haunt us unless we let it haunt us...

...or else I'd still be a straight!