Monday, October 24, 2011

cab rides

i've come to the conclusion that some of my best conversations take place while i ride in the back of d.c. cabs. whether it's talking about what it's like in a driver's country of origin (drivers from Sudan and i always have lots to talk about), or hearing tales of wild riders coming from adams morgan, or getting advice on my love life and the value of marriage...i'm always engaged and entertained.

i had another interesting conversation with a driver a couple weeks ago.

it was a short ride up connecticut avenue, as i was trying to make up lost time and save my feet from aggravation. the driver and i somehow got on the topic of age. most strangers tend to think i'm several years younger than i am, and we talked about that for a bit. the driver brought up the fact that age is really all relative (and no, this wasn't a set up for a bad pick-up line). that if you're 35, but going to live until you're 94, it's pretty accurate to call you "young." but if you're 13-years-old and going to die at age 17, you're actually pretty "old."

and this conversation reminded me of words i'd heard before. at Jarronn's memorial service, from the mouth of our pastor.

when Jarronn turned 29 (the same age i turned on friday), he was old. far, far older than he realized. far older than any of us realized. the understanding of this frequently bothers me. that he was so unaware of his mortality and his limited time. i try to consider whether knowing death is near is better or worse, and i can't come to any solid conclusion. but it does seem that having a better awareness of your "actual" age, might bring special opportunities to live a certain way, to say certain things, to tend to certain details.

last week my age increased, but i still have no idea if i'm young or old. i guess few of us really do. the question is...if i knew, would i do anything differently?

Monday, October 3, 2011

when i was 16

getting settled into my new place has been a steady process. i sold a lot of the furniture from the house and had to get new things that would fit in a space that's 1/3 the size of the old place.

it's been a constant flow of adding a new piece, unpacking another box, and finding space to put things away. over the weekend, i got through one of the final boxes, which contained binders and folders and other miscellaneous items from our office.

i came across a blue mead notebook, which served as my journal when i was 15/16. i was never really good at keeping a daily journal and have made several poor attempts to do so. i guess having recognized that about myself, this particular journal was more like a collection of "essays" about different subjects. it also had corresponding collages of photos and magazine clippings that related to the different topics.

flipping through the pages was pretty interesting. first, it's obvious that everything in the life of a 15-year-old seems far more dramatic than it actually is. as i read over my take on school (i was kind of angry), my first love (i was worse than a bad soap opera), and age (i was so ready to be grown), i couldn't help but recognize how time provides perspective.

i was also surprised to see that there was an essay dedicated to the topic of "death."

it seems that 10 years before Jarronn's passing, i was dealing with events such as the massacre at Columbine and my grandfather's deteriorating health -- all of which made me reflect on my own mortality, my beliefs about the after life, and the impact of losing a loved one.

in my reflection, i acknowledged that death was a part of life but still wrote that i couldn't comprehend the idea of my mom, dad, brother, or friends suddenly dying.

"we're supposed to be invincible, so how can my friends die? and how would i live afterwards? how could i look at the world in the same light? my shield will be shattered to pieces."

(i told y'all i was dramatic).

the truth is, even after maturing by 10 years, this was one perspective that didn't really change. while i knew i'd keep living, imagining a new reality after Jarronn died was extremely difficult. and 10 more years from now, i'm not sure that the sudden death of any of my loved ones will be easier to face. 

but reading this, i thought about being able to respond to my 16-year-old self's questions and tell her - "nothing can really prepare you, but you'll just find a way."