Tomorrow Creeps In
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty place from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time and all of our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out! Out! brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
I have this habit of running my age against the ages of those close to me as a frame of reference. I do it a lot, compare my age to where my mother was mom, my brothers, my grandparents, my extended family, writers and poets and people I admire. What they were doing when they were eighteen, or how old their parents were when they were 33. What was happening in the world, how they would have handled it. When I was younger I was the baby of my family, but eventually cousins came along and I had a frame of reference for my past. How they see the world. I can think about when I was 18 and what was happening now. It unifies an experience with people, to see it that we were once the same age, experience and processing things in the same way.
But these days my mind goes to those who aren’t here anymore, and the scab my father left over my soul is an easy one to pick at. So it is no surprise on my birthday I am thinking of where my father was when he was 33.
At my age my father had been in the same job for 10 years* (oddly enough I sort of have been too with the exception of a brief dalliance into teaching). He had spent some of that in New Jersey but most of it now at the high school where he himself had graduated from. The valedictorian of the first graduating class he taught there would be my future mother-in-law. Countless of those folks he taught in his 20s and early 30s would later become very close friends. He built a house (not himself), had two young sons and in two years would see his third (me). He had lived through Vietnam, seen many symbols of American Hope and Progression murdered, and watched the nation elect a former movie star to its highest public office.
For my mother, much of it was the same. She had met my father in high-school, and by the time she was 33 she was only a few months away from being pregnant with her third child (me again). She was a Registered Nurse in the OB/GYN unit of the hospital I was born in.
She had also built a house, lived in New Jersey, attended an Ivy League school. She was also getting ready (though she may not have known it) to saying goodbye to a very close and young family member. My Aunt Kay (who I would never meet) died of cancer relatively shortly before I was born.
And so here I am, thirty three years later, feeling not so any more wiser or foolish than I did at 13, it feels so strange.
For how we run away with it age and experience are directly correlated to wisdom and reference and perspective. Some of us acquire experience quickly sure, but you still haven’t had time to process it, and that’s all we have, time to process.
I spent this birthday surrounded by 50 strangers who I just met on Monday, who all sang me happy birthday and handed me a cake. My life has become strange and unusual. Or maybe it was always this way and I just have the benefit of 33 years now to realize it. I can see it through the frame of others. I’ve lived almost 5 lifetimes by some accounts, 7 and 14 and 21 and 28 and now closing in on 35. So much living that it scares me.
This is the third birthday that I’ve spent on the other side of the world from where I was born. I don’t know that my grandparents ever left North America, and even that if very often. Well no, I know my patergrand-mother used to return to Italy when she was young. So maybe traveling is in my blood. The way my matergrand-mother used to talk I always thought we might be gypsies. I still think that I might want to be a gypsy.
My father and mother and brothers settled like my grandparents and their parents before them but at some point someone left the old country to come here. I think all my great-grandparents were born here so maybe this running away eventually hits on one generation. It seems like all my cousins of my generation are also running around the world. For me I always feel like I’m running away.
I don’t know what from.
I’ve been very sad lately. I feel so bad that I’m infecting Jenn that I have been working hard to keep it together. What’s worse about being sad is knowing why and knowing there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’m thirty-three and still not sure how I fit into this world. Into this place in time. “Every so often there’s a man who’s the man for his place and time,” so the saying goes… it isn’t me. I wish it was but I don’t think I am.
Some days it hurts even to take a breath let alone say a word. I’m so far beyond cynicism and sarcasm and sometimes I just get angry at the fact I have to fake it until I make it. If the zeitgeist of our time and place is openness and authenticity how can I feel so phony and shut?
It’s just a feeling they say, and that too shall pass.
Thirty Three. 33. Three even times, 3 and 3. Three is the number of physical completeness, and two is the two ends of the continuum of our many faceted nature. I’m trying to be an anti-capitalist and anarchist in the heart of Consumer Capitalism and Industry. I’m holding on to that rope so hard it’s starting to burn my hands as I slide down it.
33 was always a very important age to me, as long as I can remember. As Christian myth has it, it is the age at which Jesus Christ reached the peak of his ministry, had challenged the established order and an empire, and was crucified for it. This story would be used to change the world as we know it, so much so that its echoes influence global society 2000 years later.
In my own delusion of grandeur I always had assumed that that is what I was destined for. 33 would be the age where I would accomplish great things.
But they are delusions. Real life is not a story or a myth. Reality is not an epic saga with a meteoric beginning and heroic ending. It is so much richer and complex and astoundingly boring than a hero myth. I have to put to rest this messianic ideal, it doesn’t exist, it isn’t some you can practice. It is a wonderful story and beautiful idea to move towards but it is not the way the world wants to work, no matter how much we would like it to.
And so now what do I want to accomplish with my life if not Christ or Buddha-like or Ozymandiacal type things?
I will spread my thoughts, my ideas, my love and my hate for this world as best as any one person can. That is what my father and mother and brothers had accomplished at this age and it is perfection. I can just be.
*my timeline is fuzzy, and certainly full of inaccuracies which I am sure my mother or brother will correct.