I’m on my way to my high school reunion. There’s one woman who knows my story. I had a crush on her for years as a schoolboy. She recently had her first child. A girl.
I’m very far away from all of that now. I didn’t drink in high school. I barely drank in college. I was a nerd. Something of a know it all. Not an especially great student. I’ve gotten b+’s my whole life. Today, I write b+ papers in b+ journals.
Other than this one woman with whom I play Words with Friends, and a fairly prominent science periodical EIC, I’ve barely corresponded with anyone from high school in two decades. I am not who I once was. Though in many ways I’m closer now than I was five years past.
I am thirty-seven years old. Divorced. Childless. Employed doing what I trained for, what I love. Somewhat successful at it.
I was not happy in high school. The truth is, I haven’t been happy much of my life. I have the ordinary reasons for it: child of divorce, shiftless father, overworked and codependent mother. A series of transient or ineffective or predatory father figures.
But none of that is responsible for my unhappiness. I have been depressed most of my life. Sometimes rising to a level requiring clinical intervention, though rarely. This black bile has been in me from the glistening outset.
I am well today. My heart is strong. I know not to fight my demons; I am no match for them. I am strangely sad tonight, but not depressed. I will go meet these figures from my past. I will not strive with them. I have unmade myself from what I was. I had to spend two decades finding my way as an adult, having been poorly taught, or simply untaught. I learned through fire and pain. I learned by stitching together the frayed ends of what I was given; of what I wrested from the cohort of grown-ups charged with raising me.
I have made a new self. It isn’t perfect. But it’s mine.