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Today was unplanned -- a rarity in my life nowadays. I slept over at Camelot last night, having had enough to drink at hfcougar's birthday party that driving home seemed ill-advised. So I got woken up at 9ish when everyone arrived for the Measure for Measure rehearsal, and moseyed out when the rehearsal proper started at 10ish.

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".
And through all of this, I people-watched. This has always been one of Jane's and my favorite pastimes: just paying attention to the swirl of people around us, trying to tease out their stories from their faces and manner. I don't think I've ever been so conscious before of how *rushed* everybody is. On a day like today, all I wanted was to mosey and saunter, so I almost felt like the world around me was moving in fast-forward -- the desire to stop people and say, "Slow down: it'll be okay", was surprisingly strong.

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*...
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I can't speak for others, but when I ask someone how they are doing in similar circumstances to yours, the subtext has been more like "how is the road to recovery/eventual normalcy going?" rather than "you're miserable, right?"

I still don't really get Kirk's line, but I'll take it on faith that it makes sense.

The thing is, it's not really a return to normalcy as I thought of it: it's a qualitative mental shift. At our age, we're used to a measure of certainty and routine to our lives, and we define that as "normal". That's been tossed out the window for me, and the result is that my "normal" has shifted back to something much closer to when I was 19.

Indeed, yesterday was much more "normal" for me for freshman year of college than in any time since. I didn't realize that until just this moment, but the whole routine of walking into Harvard Square for an afternoon is exactly how I spent many days back in those early days. (Roughly when you and I were dating, in fact...)

I think I understand your meaning better now, thanks.

I must say that this is good to read.

Here's another case where I see some similarities to when I was going through my divorce. Granted, back then I actually WAS young...ah to be 28 again.

Suddenly, you are not the person you used to be. You are not part of a couple. You are starting out on your own, all over again, figuring out who you are and who you want to be. It is very much like going off to college the first time. You can be anything, try anything, and you aren't accountable to anyone but yourself. You are born anew, and therefore young again.

I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying this time in your life, and that your happiness seems to be outweighing your times of sadness. Wish I could be closer to give you some hugs, and bask in your youthfulness. ;)

Much love to you, dear brother. Virtual hugs will have to do. :)

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