autobiographical

Fifteen Years

I only have one cat now. I used to have two but a few months ago, the older cat died. He was fifteen but I am still very sad. I am keenly aware that I am experiencing this mourning as one half. I still think of my two cats as one entity, two halves of a pair. So in a way, it’s almost like the cat who died is still here.  I have lost half, but not all.  When the other cat dies, I think I will be a lot sadder, and that’s a little frightening because I’m pretty sad.

Right now, my cat is rolling around on the floor looking like a beached whale. He has almost enough personality for two. I’m glad he didn’t go first because the other cat was the needy one. I think my living cat might prefer being an only cat, in all honesty. I often wish he could tell me.

Fifteen years is a long time. Fifteen years ago I was 21 and living in Massachusetts in a 3 bedroom apartment with 4 other people. It’s hard to conceive that that person was me, and I am still me. It seems like another planet, a chapter in a book. I have old journals from then, sealed up in a box that I am afraid to open. For some reason I do not want to revisit any of that past. I cringe with embarrassment just thinking about it. Feeling sad at age 36 is uncomfortable, but not impossible. At 21 I did not feel sad, I felt a sworling vortex of despair. Or so my vague memories tell me. I could read what I wrote and find out, and I will someday, but not yet.

I wonder if other people forget all the incredibly stupid, selfish, ill-conceived, dangerous things they did in their youth and that’s why people my age seem to have become incredibly judgmental and self-righteous. Sometimes I really do wonder if having children destroys the part of your brain that remembers what it is like to be young. I know those very same self-righteous judging people did the stupid, selfish, ill-conceived dangerous things, whether they remember or not. I remember.

I have this theory that every single person, self included, has at least one belief that is just 100% wrong and they have no idea about it. Think about it. When someone is wrong, they don’t know it so why would you? And whatever it is, it’s something big.

Fifteen years ago tonight. We were probably sitting around the table in our kitchen, which served as our living room since the living room was used as a bedroom. We were probably drinking, smoking pot, and playing Rummy. Or maybe tonight was the night we went to that party and he got drunk and/or lost his shit.  Maybe, fifteen years ago tonight, was the night that my best friend, whose life felt so intertwined with my own as to be indivisible, confessed he had knocked her to the ground before. And when he got home from the party where he had caused the scene, he used his knives and swords to slash up our furniture before pinning her to the wall by her throat. Lesson 1: never trust a man with a knife collection.

All this and more is all recorded in my box of journals that I kept religiously from age 15 to 25. What an age to choose to record. Maybe in another fifteen years, I will be ready to visit my past again, but then, maybe in fifteen years, I won’t want to look at today.

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