My friends have a newborn daughter. I have a new phone.
Yesterday, as the sun began its final descent, I walked a loop around Green Lake, trying to get my Fitbit to the magical number of steps where I can stop calling myself lazy for a day. I had been driving around, running errands, the first time I’d been in my car in nearly a month. As I drove, walked, and drove some more, I listened to my first episode of “Guys We Fucked”, a sex-positive podcast recorded by two women in their late-20s in New York.
Me? I’ve been in a funk ever since I departed that city last month, but it was somewhere on the far side of Green Lake from my car that I had yet another epiphany about the possible cause. Seattle is lovely and beautiful and all of that, but the past 11 years have been, at best, good. Only my age 27 year qualified as great, for a single reason only slightly less ephemeral than tonight’s eclipse.
Leaving New York was an admission of defeat, in a way, but it might have been something else. In sports circles, there’s a phenomenon known as the “post-hype sleeper,” a young player who failed to live up to expectations early on, but once everyone gave up on him, he wound up blossoming, just a year or two later than expected. I realize now that New York may have been my own sleeper, and that I may have traded it in too soon. I gave up on the possibility of greatness for the certainty of good.
And I don’t know if I can trade back.
I had some variation of the same conversation on consecutive days this week, wherein, for possibly the first time in my life, I claimed to have high self-esteem. This summer’s travels and travails led me to a strangely self-assured place, one where I actually believe I have my shit more together than the median man my age, and might actually be decent-looking to boot. The catch, sadly, is that this new esteem came paired with a new sense of awareness of the last few years’ failures and the patterns to which I’m prone, which necessitates taking a step (or 19) back and figuring out why I do what I do.
It’s strange to have a sudden surge of self-worth paired with a crisis of confidence, but I’ve never been prone to following convention.
Most of my life has been spent alone, but for now, I’m doing it by choice, unlike ever before. Reassess. Regroup. Reconsider what it is I want, and how to go about getting it. People, places, things: Every type of noun is up for revaluing.
Last month, in Boston, my aunt asked, without the slightest degree of subtlety, when she should expect to come out to Seattle for a wedding. I shrugged and tried to deflect, but she pressed once more. Feeling snarky, I told her to save the date for some time in 2021.
But she’s of a different generation than me—Hell, she was a decade older than my father—and our views on some matters couldn’t possibly be more different. I’ve come to realize how far I stand from some people I am, or should be, close to. How I’m growing farther away as my life takes shape more.
My friends have a newborn daughter. I have a new phone. And I wish them well, but I wouldn’t consider trading, even for a second.