My Perception of Myself

Remember how awesome it was going to “Aunt Lynn and Uncle Tims?”

For one weekend we’d party it up with Adam and Ashley and it was great.  We were freakin’ young.  Staying up all night was a breeze.  Give me one cookie and I’ll be awake for days.

Remember moving to Washington?  Those long as car rides in the cars packed with luggage like we were trying to become a living Tetris game?  It was hot, crowded, and most disastrously- I ran out of batteries for my Gameboy™.

Remember being at the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince midnight release?  That was fun.  We met your husband for the first time!  We were planning to put on leather underwear and form a phalanx to stop the people from stampeding us.

I’ve been focusing my speculations as of late inwardly.  Evaluating myself, what makes me happy, what drives me.  Who am I?  Those sorts of things that let me feel profound at 3 a.m.  Or when I’m drunk.

In each of those memories that you summoned, how old did you picture yourself?  What were you wearing?  What were you even doing at that point in your life?

To my, my mind doesn’t do a check against my age and body when I’m remembering.  I just remember being there and experiencing it.  But it occurred to me as of late that my perception of myself has changed.  I started to explore my lifetime to try and narrow down when these changes to my internal perception changed.

We went to Aunt Lynn and Uncle Tims essentially throughout our childhood.  They were a semi-monthly staple.  We had great memories there every time we visited.  So why do I always envision myself as 10 years old?  My first memory is that of being like- 7 and playing with Adams chemistry set with him and talking about dinosaurs.

Moving to Washington when we were 12 right up until I went full goth (approximately 16) is a different period.  My memories of middle school and the early part of high school are all a different Daniel.  I was shorter (than I am now), had tightly cropped spiked hair, and wore a black wind breaker and black jeans.  Its the only version of myself I can conjure up.  I don’t even remember what my wardrobe looked like.

High school is a little closer but even then I can’t remember exactly who I was.  I remember “tropes” of myself.  I had incredible, spiky hair.  I had hot topic shirts and fishnet undershirts.  I had a trench coat.  But that’s all.  My image of myself from almost 17 to 24 is the same.  All of my memories are just a string bean version of myself wearing that one outfit.

Here’s the thing that’s becoming interesting.  I know I had different trends in my clothing, hair, and size.  Yet when I think back to those time periods I naturally fall back into that vision of myself.  When I worked at Chuck E. Cheese, the free cheesy bread sticks caused me to balloon to 300 lbs!  Yet, when I think back to living with my girlfriend and best friend during that the time, I don’t remember being heavy.  I don’t remember my clothes or what I was up to at the time.  I remember that specific version of my that my mind conjures up.

What’s been making me think about this is the fact that I believe I am currently in another shift to my mind perceiving me as a different version.  Recently there was a work party where I had to race on a bike.  And I could barely keep it together.  Muay Thai was brutally hard on my body because I’m not young and relatively fit as I was.  My body and mind are beginning to understand that I’m much older than I was.  So I’m finally seeing myself as the monochrome clothed, heavy person I am now instead of a young, vibrant clothed idiot.

Its weird how time and memory interact.  You mentioned recently that we’ve been doing this blog thing for more than a year now.  Which is fucking absurd.  Didn’t we just start?  I’ve only done like 4 posts and 8 of them were about Batman.

Even when I think back to those times my memories of other people are also type-cast.  You will only have long, blonde hair.  Deal with it.  Sara will always be accompanied by one of her various friends.  Mom and Dad haven’t ever changed.

It’s probably why its really jarring when you encounter someone after so long and they totally clash with how you remember them.  When we saw Aunt Lynn and Uncle Tim recently they didn’t match my memories at all.  Or when we went to Wisconsin.  Brett and Casey are goddamn adults now.  Our “cousin” Jenny is married and blonde.

WHAT IS HAPPENING.  TIME IS TOO BIG.

Fuck.  I wish I had been an avid journal-er.  A chronicle of my time alive so I could compare and contrast notes.  Where did I think I was going to be?  What was my vision back then?  Would reading all of that or writing all of that change how I remember things?

Growing up is weird.  But man does it keep me up at night sometimes.

-DTM

Nostalgia

You and I were chatting earlier this week about music, memory, and nostalgia.  It got me thinking quite a bit about how for me nostalgia never seems to be a common memory.  The moment always shoots me back to some forgotten place in my past.  Its also almost always a triggered sort of thing; I’ll smell something, or I’ll hear something that just instantly floods my mind with memories of years long past.

Most recently I was down at the waterfront with my girlfriend, enjoying the brisk whether and the nice walk.  There was one stretch of the waterfront that suddenly smelled like a wooded creek, and I remember being out camping with the family at the Fort McCoy camp grounds, on their modest river beach.

For me most of my memories its smell related for some reason.  My nose doesn’t work correctly.  I’ve never had it looked at by a doctor, but I’m reasonably sure I should be able to breath through it normally.  Either way, I feel like when I’m able to clearly smell something it’ll stick with me better.

Remember when we were young and out camping with the family.  Dad would always tell us the fire wasn’t big enough and he’d go get his Boyscout Water.  Remember that?  It always makes me laugh.  Whenever I smell a nice wood fire,  it springs up.

Another is the way grandmas house smells during the winter.  The rain, the forest, and the mildew makes me think of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I was reading that book while we still lived there during that summer.  Do you even remember living there?  At the time it felt like forever, but now it was a blip on the radar.

Baking pumpkin pie reminds me of Lego’s.  We used to always go out to Indiana for thanksgiving, and grandma almost always had new Lego sets for me to play with.  So thanksgiving day was always waiting around for dinner while I built my Lego dinosaurs.

Hot asphalt reminds me of of the new asphalt they put down at Lemonweir right before they put the new play equipment up.  I remember when it was brand new that anticipation building up for lunch.  I’d go eat my lunch but I’d end up throwing half of it away just so I could run outside and play on it.  That bright burning Wisconsin sun, and that stiff, acrid asphalt smell as I sprinted out there.

Gasoline reminds me of the Shell station in Tomah.  We’d wait in the car while mom was fueling up, and we’d beg and plead for her to get us scratchy-tickets.  And mom would let us keep the money we won.  $3 was so much money back then.

Freshly opened model kits remind me of the first Gundam modelling kit I got at the mall.  That little kiosk used to be the only place to buy little Pokemon toys and Gundam modelling kits.  The smell of the plastic; the scale of the models.  I still have those Pokemon toys somewhere in my closet.

Fresh book smell reminds me of the little catalogs we’d get in school.  You had to take them home and then your parents sent you back home with some money and an order.  Like three weeks later a box would show up and everyone got the books they ordered.  It was always so exciting.  Personally, I had most of the Animorphs.

I’m sure there are so many more, but the coolest part about nostalgia is that I can’t just make it happen.  Travelling to those points in my past is always sort of exciting to remember.  This post didn’t really have a point, but I’d love to hear some of yours.

-DTM