This is really hard.
How do you start summing up six years? What’s the best way?
Do you go year by year? That seems problematic, because eventually it just becomes a part of you, your history. So, you forget. Sure, I moved to Seattle in that time. Was it three years ago or four? Five maybe? I haven’t the foggiest idea, and I’m OK with that. And besides, you end up having to serve the part of director without having any notion of what how granular you should be. Does moving count? Sure, let’s go there. What about those conventions, PAX West and all that? I guess they could, why not, they were important. But what about the little important things – I found socks that I finally enjoy wearing this year (I hate socks), oh, and the most comfy pants ever, even if they make me look a bit like a white-washed character from Night 540 of 1001 Arabian Nights.
Right, so, not a play by play. Maybe just pick out the big things that really stand out. But that still has that problem. What deserves to be cut? What deserves to be hidden? What should be mentioned? I started playing Overwatch. I haven’t GM’ed an RPG in over two years. I’ve met a ton of people, most of whom I can’t forget but don’t remember. I moved from Billings to Seattle to Kenmore to Seattle to Bainbridge Island to Seattle to Bainbridge Island to Seattle again, though there was a lot of commuting in all there between those places as well.
Perhaps, instead, I should not try and create an easy, systematic way of presenting how things have changed. I’ve spent a very large portion of my life studying rational, constructed systems and I feel like I want a break form that for a while. So, below is less “How My Life Has Changed Drastically Over Six Years: A List” and more “Things I Know Are Different And What That Means: A List,” because who doesn’t love lists?
Number 1. I write only in cursive with a pen, and I write a lot more than I used to.
It’s true. A coworker at a training saw my notebook and said “Are you taking notes or writing a letter to your 19th-century lover?”
This has been going on for probably a year now? I used to hate writing. It took so much time, and typing came to me much more naturally. Years on a keyboard do that. But during grad school, I realized that I couldn’t remember everything that we had talked about (that happens when you go from almost-20 to almost-26). So, I took my laptop around and tried taking notes. But, I have a brick of a laptop, and the notes never seemed to stick. Shit. Guess I have to write. So, I got a little Moleskine like a good hipster. It was a Star Wars one, because of course it was. I wrote all my dates and appointments and meetings in it (that also happens when you go from almost-20 to almost 26, you get a lot more of those). But then I looked at my handwriting and got really sad. Disappointed in myself. I’m ostensibly an adult. My handwriting should look like J.R.R. Tolkien’s, not Jr. the Toddler’s, dammit. So, I started practicing.
I do that a lot more now too, practice. I practice my handwriting. I practice writing sometimes. I practice drawing, both digitally and on-paper, and I practice game design and analysis and critique (some things don’t change when you go from almost-20 to almost-26, and those usually are your passions). I practice getting stronger. I practice self-control.
But I digress. That Moleskine got full quick as a notebook, so this year I got another smaller one in it. It’s just for dates and quick-notes. I wrote the day I was going to beat my coworkers at dodgeball. It’s getting full, now that the year is coming to a close. I’m excited, because that means a new one, but also time to transfer dates over. The birthdays of friends. The get-togethers with family. The reminder of the day I met and went out with the girl I love (May 15, I believe). That’s a good transition to my next point.
Number 2. I love a lot more than I used to.
I used to be a jaded, cynical little shit. Over six years, that has changed much. I’m still jaded, and I’m still cynical, and according to my partner I’m still a little shit (I refuse to spoil Downton Abbey for you, you must watch the saga of Anna Smith and John Bates like the rest of us did). Instead, I’ve balanced that out with more kindness. More empathy. More appreciation, gratitude, and enthusiasm. Put simply, I love more.
I love sushi. I love going to movies. I love watching people play games almost as much as I love playing them. I love sitting at the park talking about football, and I love climbing and picking up heavy things. I love my family, and I love that I can still build things with my own to hands. I love my friends, and all that laughs and company and good times and intellectual, thoughtful stimulation we provide one another. I love making people sigh at my awful jokes, and I love a quiet cup of coffee in the morning. I love waking up early and going to bed late. And I love the present, and that I have the privilege of experiencing it.
Number 3. I plan for the future, and acknowledge the mistakes and accomplishments of my past.
Wow, look at that. Almost like I planned this or something.
I used to be a very carefree person, and in many ways I still am. This is not to say I don’t have worries. Graduate school is not cheap, and education is not a lucrative field. It’s even less so when you focus on an incredibly narrow part of education that doesn’t give you a teaching certificate. Stringing together part-time jobs becomes stressful after so long. The fact that one thing that has not changed between being almost-20 and almost-26 is the fact that I still live with my parents weighs on me daily. I have no experience in a single field, and thus am unlikely to get a steady job, especially as time goes on. I was a raging jerk for quite a while, to people I knew and people I liked and people that I spent my time with. And I regret that. It’s hard, looking back at six years worth of failures and missteps and tribulations all at once.
But it’s never all bad. I learned how to treat people with kindness and empathy. I realized that being a misanthrope isn’t cool, it’s just mean. I designed a game that may never see a shelf and that’s still fine. I graduated both sixteenth and eighteenth grades. I exercised the self-control to not interrupt what I ultimately want for what could work right now. And because of those strings of part-time jobs, of needing another paycheck for the next loan, I’ve taught students as young as five and as old as fifty; I’ve taught science and math and public speaking and logic and game design and programming and how to not be a prick; and I found somebody who’s just as strange as me, but in all the ways I never could be and all the ways I am and I love her. I’m proud that we see each other as often as we both can. I’m proud that I buckled down and prepared this weekend. I’m proud that I still went to exercise despite the stressful fay I still have ahead of me.
I look forward to my life with her, however long that lasts. I look forward to whatever work comes my way because then I can keep doing new things. I look forward to my old-ages and whatever I’ve prepared for it, as I’ve already started (that’s another thing – when you’re almost-20, retirement is not even a though, but when you’re almost-26, you with you had capitalize on those six years of compound interest you have missed). I look forward to Halloween so my partner and I can dress up in a cheesy couples costume and celebrate her birthday. I look forward to the end of the month when I can finally force all my friends to play some of the huge backlog of Unplayed-Games-I-Own. I look forward to this job interview, as it may change my life forever. I look forward to the shower I’m taking in just a few moments.
With that, happy birthday Opie. Hope this does something. Don’t eat shit running up or down stairs. I’m glad to see that the two of you finally decided to do what you done did.