In the end, we are all searching for something.
The quote I chose for my yearbook junior year of high school was “Life’s a journey, not a destination, and I just can’t tell just what tomorrow will bring.” This was from Aerosmith’s Amazing, which hit so many chords with me even then. The quote is hackneyed and attributable to dozens of people, most commonly Ralph Waldo Emerson (though he does not appear to have written the exact quote, just the sentiment). Some days I regret choosing it instead of Faulker’s quote from the Unvanquished: “I realized then the immitigable chasm between life and print – that those who can do, and those who cannot, and suffer enough because they cannot, write about it.” That, I think, would have been more appropriate for that time in my life.
Kemper has inherited many things from me, but at his core he does not know what it is to deceive. We often joke that he acts the same for Anna and me as he does for his teachers, and as he would for a stranger; what you see is what you get. It is a brilliant, albeit foreign, trait to me. As he has matured, I have waited for the introversion to take over, but he must have received a recessive gene from Anna. Though he cedes to quietness after a long day of entertaining people – and not as a defense mechanism – he is not like me, like who I was.
In my earlier years, if you saw me, casually, on the street, to you I looked happy. I was the greatest liar that ever lived. That did not seem like hyperbole at the time, and when I look back on the years between college and where I am today, I can still say that without any reservation or apprehension (which, perhaps, is a testament to how often I convinced myself of my own deception). But then I recovered.
I am different now, too. I remain introverted, but the life I lead is no longer a duality of darkness and feigned brightness. Hawthorne once wrote “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” I read this quote (from The Scarlett Letter) in high school, and I still remember it to this day. I lived the quote, not as much then as in my later years, but even at sixteen, I recognized my ability to con and fool others (and even myself) into believing I was capable of feeling joy. But then I recovered.
I have found that capability, and I experience joy every day. I am cautious though. The joy is always tinged at the corners with a fear of free-falling back to a time and place I can now barely remember. I do not regret my past, nor do I wish to shut the door on it. Instead, it has made me who I am at this moment, and this moment is all I have until the next one passes. For now, I have joy and contentment and knowledge and peace that there are things both within and without my control. Honestly. Because I recovered.
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