December 28, 2011
Gilford, New Hampshire
I was 17 years old
Long time no chat. It’s been about 10 months since the conclusion of my last journal and I’m disappointed that I’ve let this much time pass without some sort of documentation. Thank God for Emily Watson, hooking me up with something as vital as a journal. But I’m kind of desperately looking back at this chunk of time, searching for shiny and new details about my life to share and I’m coming up empty. Life in New Hampshire is as dull as usual, I guess. Whether the dullness is self-inflicted or not, I don’t know.
I spent the summer in New Jersey and it was a blast. I drove the ‘01 Honda Accord ghetto-mobile back and forth from Nana’s in Toms River to Freehold everyday for the month of July, the last week of June, and the first week in August. Obviously: I got my license. Forty hours of stressed out driving with Mrs. Landroche finally paid off in April. Wasn’t too pumped about getting it before but it grants you quite a bit of independence. And jam out time. Nothing like totally being one with the music while driving.
Staying at Nana’s was an experience. Aunt Patti was also living there, on account of her Jackson house being sold while still being a couple months too young to move into Nana’s neighborhood. Nana wasn’t too bad while I stayed with her; she cracked me up, actually. It was Aunt Patti who proved to be the hardass. But I did kind of take advantage—specifically the night I stayed at Irina’s until one in the morning (my “curfew” was 11 o’clock) and got an ominous call from Aunt Patti’s cell. I won’t soon forget the “WHERETHEHELLAREYOU? GETYOURASSHOMEIN30MINUTES!” that greeted me upon answering the phone.
Irina and Danielle were fun, as usual. I feel like the number of people I hang out with gets smaller and smaller every time I visit. But I got close with their friend Erin over the summer. She’s sweet. We all spent time at Belmar and around Freehold. Crashed a few of Irina’s neighbors’ pools. Got caught once as we were creeping through the backyard. We were just about to go through this neighbor’s fence when a car pulled up in their driveway and we’re all fricken deer in the fricken (literal) headlights. So fun. As for Nana’s house, it was alright. But I missed the days of having the entire bottom floor of Aunt Patti’s house all to myself over the summer. It sucks how life seems to be all about missing things.
I shadowed the orthodontist at the office Jillian works at in Freehold. Every Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. He was the spitting image of Kourtney Kardashian’s boyfriend, Scott. I mean, he was nice and all but so smug. I guess it was beneficial for me though because, by the end of the 40 hours I spent with him, I decided I don’t want to be an orthodontist. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, you’re making bank from a career that’s very “clean” but I just want to do something where I’ll be connecting with people a little more. With, I don’t know, TEN years LESS college in the process. I just really don’t want to waste my 20s in college. Granted, a college education is hardly a waste but I just don’t know if I’m ambitious enough for that.
I’ve started working. Polo Ralph Lauren at the outlets in Tilton. And it sucks. It’s not even that bad. I just hate the concept of working. I guess it’s good that I changed my availability for swim season a month ago and that they haven’t given me any hours at all ever since. I’m over it and though that doesn’t bother me, it does frighten me a little. I wish I was more ambitious. Had a little more drive. I just don’t.
I’ve considered being a psychiatrist but that’s even more college and it’s supposedly a seriously saturated profession. I’ve also thought about just being a therapist. I think I’d love doing that. Mom isn’t too keen about me working with crazy people but I’m fascinated by how we “work.” I mean The Bell Jar isn’t my favorite book for nothing. And the Oprah episodes that have to deal with issues faced by everyday people are always the most interesting to me. People astound me and I’d love to do something where I learn from them and they learn from me. Which, of course, has made me think about being a teacher too. I mean, I love good teachers. They have the most important job in the world and I feel like it would be such a rewarding career.
I really hate that I have to make all these decisions at such a young age. The fact that I’m worrying about SATs and college and my career and not making friends at college and having a nervous breakdown at college—it’s annoying. I don’t even know where I want to go or what I’d major in. Wish I had another ten years of high school before I had to deal with it.
August 4, 2021
Brooklyn, New York
I am 27 years old
I have no business being surprised by the fact that I’m living much the same life at 27 years old as I was at 17. No right to be tickled, however briefly, upon opening this circa 2011 journal to find such a precise parallel to the goings-on of my July 2021. Starting things off with “Long time no chat” as I myself have been on a sabbatical from sharing these weekly dispatches of my past and present selves? Only to go on and detail the teenage antics of a summer spent in New Jersey as I’m all the while readjusting to Brooklyn after a couple seaside weeks in North Carolina? Hello! Cosmic! Positively fateful! Blur your eyes and there’s the hand of destiny, penning, oh so poetically, a looping narrative of my young life. Focus your eyes however and destiny’s hand starts looking a lot like my own, journaling an arrangement that feels, after a couple more years, less than kismet.
I love spending the summer living someplace else. A class traitorous desire, I’m sure. But a desire that I’ve nevertheless managed to accommodate into my self-proclaimed nun’s life long before I was ever proclaiming it as such. Because all these Junes, Julys, and Augusts I spent somewhere else, I did without spending much money at all, somehow managing to live in a handful of different cities over the years almost completely for free. Though not without, guiltily, and debatably, earning my keep. I worked as a resident assistant for my Boston college in exchange for free housing. After living in Chicago on my friend’s Swedish grandmother’s back porch, I left behind a $100 check for the water bills. And I routinely loaded and unloaded the dishwasher for my boyfriend’s parents as we continued extending our visit in Wilmington last summer from “a couple weeks” in June to “we might as well look for apartments with September 1st move-ins.” I’m not so much proud of all this as I am a little amazed. Because for 12 weeks at a time, year after year, I’ve managed to put off all those realities of home that were waiting for me as soon as the sun stopped setting at eight o’clock.
As with most other personal traits and traumas, this pattern began upon moving to New Hampshire. I was fundamentally opposed to the move and just as fundamentally devastated by it and, come that first summer vacation, I was desperate to be back in New Jersey. And after a school year in which my hostility proved rich in stamina, I think my parents realized they’d benefit just as much as I would from a couple months away from home. Allowing me, though not without some begging, to leave this place where I was responsible for carving out something new and go back to a familiar town that required nothing from me that just might resemble work. And while I’ve grown enough to realize that New Jersey is not necessarily superior to New Hampshire, not to mention the disservice I did myself by not living my life where I actually lived, I can’t be too proud about it. Not when I spent nearly all of July away from New York, motionless on beaches and pool decks, time proving so perfectly placid as I let more and more emails from work concerning my August 7th return to the museum pile up unopened.
I have a hard time with August. It’d make more sense to take issue with September, the true period of summer's sentence, that cruel temptress who still has a couple beach-worthy days up her sleeve only to offer a noontime seven on the UV index. But it’s August that always feels so very somber to me. Like a fast fashion Jenny Holzer, I’ve taken to social media more than once to share my feelings that “AUGUST IS AN ALLEGORY.” I only kind of know what I mean. That this final full month of the season is like some 31-day-long fable about something built too beautiful to last. Some spun tale about June’s white-yellow sunshine aging into that Labor Day shade of sad, sad gold with a moral to the story about a sun that always keeps shining or time that never stops passing or something else entirely that I haven’t quite learned yet. I could get down on myself for not figuring it out by now but, with any luck, there’s always next summer.