Nostalgia and Counting Calories

A man is laying on the kitchen floor. Why? Is it because his wife kicked him out of the bedroom? Is it because he is concussed? Is it because he was poisoned? Is he a thief who fell asleep on the job? Did he pass out? Was he knocked out? Is he choking? Is he dead? The night shrouded over him, he lay there, unmoving, while the world speeds around him. He is insignificant. 

I see him, think about him, wonder about him. How could the world leave him laying there? He's alone, but I finally know I'm not.

I'm trying to work out my identity based on a synthesis of my ideas, beliefs and history. By history, I mean my family and heritage but not the way most people find self from their parents. I'm de-caste-ing myself from the mistakes of my background, and so some of who I am is from a pendulum swing to the other side. The deviations of my history, of my life, are joining forces with my radical visions to create a version of myself I like.

For example, I'm Jewish. Not by practice, and not by much, but my Mom's grandparents (straight through the maternal line) were german jews fleeing 1930s, and so, according to the rules of Orthodox Judaism, I'm also Jewish. You wouldn't know it if you saw the way my family works. No Hanukah or Seder dinners, not even the acknowledgement of our heritage pops into our lives, but this year, I'm fasting for Passover.

To the rest of the world, this doesn't matter. It's just another component of my search for self in this thoroughly screwed up wreck of who I used to be. The girl with the indie glasses, bright colored tights, and dress-code-unauthorized canvas skater shoes is looking for herself. Everyone is bewildered by the abnormality of a deviant adolescent searching for her identity. But the important, unique, and noteworthy thing about this is the side-effect: finding people I care about, and a plan for my future that actually suits my needs.

This path has lead me to a radical decision: leaving high school after junior year and going to college after junior year. And not just any college; "any" college wouldn't suit me much better than my current school. Weird, quirky, cool places like Reed, Hampshire, Beloit, Simon's Rock, and Sarah Lawrence. Places with people like me. The places that suit me, can help me grow, can give me the community, the opportunity, the friendships I've never had before, and yet the senior slideshow is holding me back. Damned sentimentality.

Today at Assembly, the seniors showed a powerpoint of adjacent baby pictures and senior portraits, which reminded me of what senior year is supposed to mean, how it puts a bow on top of grade school, childhood. I know that it won't do me much good. But nonetheless, I feel the tugging of the year I'll miss. I'll spend that year doing bigger things, better things, things I enjoy, learning, creating, but the system, the standard, the elegy of normalcy is turning me into a tree with two blackbirds, as Wallace Stevens, (who I often feel is watching me and infiltrating my mind while I do personal things like write, silently swear and pee) would say.

At my Great-Uncle Ned's funeral, I was struck by how much his family spoke of being normal, and not in an attempt to speak of Ned as an individual, but rather, to speak of him as someone striving for that normalcy, which all the speakers congratulated whatever was left of him for achieving during his life. The generation who were born in the 19-teens and 20s and spent their adulthood in the 50s idolized being normal, as the growth of the suburbs so clearly reflect. I find suburbs loathsome, all the houses, tidy lawns, they make me sick to see the lines of endless superficiality. Yet sometimes I wish I lived in a standard suburban loving family, that I could give up my individuality to be normal and well liked, to have a normal high school experience and graduate with my beloved class. But my class isn't beloved, I'm certainly not normal, and I don't live in the suburban utopia I occasionally dream of when I let my guard down. 

Cognitively, I know this is all the wrong way to live, but sometimes, the good fight sucks. Just like I know the constant dieting and image-obsession of women is fed by and enabling their objectification, I'm on a "Loose It!" iPod App diet with a daily caloric budget of 1,049, because I want to meet the standard of female beauty by summer, so I can be whistled at in a bikini. And it's not easy either. Diet soda tastes like cologne, and I'm never quite full, but I do it anyway, because the sentimental dream for a 16 year old is to be the fancy of all the boys.

I know what I really need, make me happy, and I know what I want, a world where I can be normal and give up working for a better me, a better world. Being conflicted is painful...

The End

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