And then I realized that the day was wide open. I had no plans, and was damned if I was going to spend such a beautiful day inside doing chores. So after a fair amount of wandering, I wound up in Cambridge, drifting through and idly shopping. Nothing terribly specific, although I did wind up buying a lot:
- I spent half an hour choosing a bunch of books from the guy who sells out of boxes in the middle of Central Square (who turns out to run a surprisingly good used book store out of those boxes).
- There was a small pile of CDs from the aptly-named Weirdo Records, which I don't think I'd ever been in before: I don't think I knew a single title in the store, so it was sort of like shopping in an alternate universe of alternative music.
- There was hearing music from a street busker, deciding to give him a buck; realizing that he was playing hurdy-gurdy and doing so quite well, so upping that buck; and then realizing that he was selling CDs of him and his wife doing Baroque hurdy-gurdy duets, and chatting with him for a few minutes about that.
- There were the assorted strange-but-neat foodstuffs at Cardullo's, including Bacon Salt, Taste #5 (essentially umami in a tube), Aztec Chocolate Bitters for cocktails, a Ramen Noodle Chocolate bar, and a precious little sampler of Vosges chocolates.
- And there was the almost painfully apt t-shirt from Million Year Picnic, which just reads, "I HAVE SURVIVED MY PAST".
I will admit one disconcerting thing, though: realizing just how young college girls are. I am rarely all that conscious of age, and heaven knows there are some 20-somethings that I find very cute. But I do seem to have gotten to the point where the Harvard students just feel a bit unfinished to me.
But that did put me in mind of Star Trek -- specifically, the end of Wrath of Khan. Most of you have seen it, and know the moment I'm talking about: Spock has died and been shot into space, and when Kirk is asked how he feels, his response is "Young. I feel *young*." I never understood that moment; indeed, I always found it bizarre. He's just lost his life-long best friend, and is bereft -- how can that *possibly* be the right answer?
And yet, that's where I am now. I've been realizing it in recent days, and especially yesterday at Coronation, when I ran into several people for the first time in months, and got the usual heartfelt, "How are you feeling?" The subtext there is always clear, an expectation that I am of course miserable and need to be comforted. But I've been realizing that I can't say that any more, because it's not true: the honest answer that I've started giving is, "I feel good". Mind, the hugs are still more than welcome: one of my biggest real problems now is that I'm horribly touch-deprived. But the truth of the matter is, I *do* feel young.
I don't think I ever really grokked the notion of catharsis before, but I've intellectually known what I was going to need. I've spent the past few months mourning hard and completely -- not wallowing, but not fighting it at all either. And the result is, I seem to have mostly pushed through. The truth is, for the past week I've felt more energized than I have in *years*. The castle of my life has been shaken utterly to rubble by an earthquake, enough so that there isn't a lot of point trying to rebuild the same edifice. Instead, I'm setting out on the road and seeing where it takes me. Initially that was purely reactive; gradually, I'm starting to choose among the forks in the path, but I'm still deliberately avoiding too many preconceptions of the waystations to come.
The simplest truth is, I'm smiling again, and youthfully drinking in the world. The bad days are mostly giving way to bad moments, the grief to occasional melancholy. But the more I'm out in the world, making new friends and learning new things, the more the badness recedes. It's a young man's attitude, and it is *fun*...