Cartouche's Blog

Writing My Way Out of Something

cartouche

cartouche
Location
Someplace, somewhere else, USA
Birthday
February 09
Title
nonconfromist
Company
Mind My Own Business
Bio
Artist, former newspaper columnist and restaurant critic. Award-winning author of "In Pursuit of Excellence". In my spare minute I can be found blogging here, on Huffington Post and other places that don't pay and (more often) writing for some places that do. Occasionally I tweet random thoughts and observations as @nonconfromist. I keep the really good ones to myself.

MY RECENT POSTS

JANUARY 6, 2011 5:19PM

Seeing Myself in Reverse

Rate: 46 Flag

In recent months, I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with a few people who once played major roles in my long ago life. My ninth grade English teacher whom I adored, an employer who gave me my first taste of the world of radio as a young intern and lastly, a lover with an accent who left my heart in a puddle of tears.  By the time he crossed back over the pond, it had become an ocean with depths I could not yet fathom. 

Without knowing then, each made a profound impact on who I became, how I exercised my mind, where I planted my future or uprooted my past, as well as what I left behind in the wake zone that would eventually become me.  In retrospect, I was star struck in the presence of these individuals who for one reason or another, took me under their wings before I waited in anyone else’s or had my own with which to fly.  I saw and perceived them through an amateur’s eyes, naïve to the concept that darkrooms exist for us all, so we can fully develop and learn to appreciate the warmth of the light when it eventually graces our shoulders.

As I waded into young adulthood, I carried memories of these people like life preservers.   Buoyed by their support of or belief in me, my expectations were more defined by those of others than any delusions of grandeur I had yet to consider in the realm of possibility for myself. It didn’t take me long to realize that one could sink or swim in a bathtub as easily as he or she could in the sea.  I scared myself to life by deciding to dive right into it and never imagined myself looking back (or ahead) for the safety of a shoreline or the anchor of anything that could hold me down completely. 

By the time life had decided to figure me out and not vice versa, I understood that a young broken heart is the training bra for real heartache, that time only stands still during the most painful or challenging moments and that people from your past leave invisible fingerprints and write stories on your soul with indelible ink.  We’re just too busy trying to clean up meaningless stains of no permanence to notice them until they magically reappear in our lives.

The era of my life that these people represent can be measured by promises of lifelong friendship in yearbooks, black and white snapshots or the year where MTV was a secret waiting to be told.  It was an era of beach vacations and a version of New York City from a visitor’s perspective instead of that of a taxi-hailing resident in a suit with shoulder pads (that were big enough to play corporate football in)  at a time where the field was still mostly comprised of boys.

Thirty years on, my life is colliding with people who have fast-forwarded their way through decades of their own trajectory.  They each represent something, some aspect of who I was or am in this cosmos. And we are picking up the pieces of ourselves where we left off, like luggage on a carousel that was once considered lost or missing.  It was never forgotten.

Instead of starting from the beginning, we are back in the middle.  I am suddenly looking at everything backwards, witnessing myself through the eyes of people who see me as the same person I once was.  The more they do, the more I realize I am not. 

It is their eyes playing tricks on me.

They have reentered my world and life as I now know and live it, still viewing me through the lens of history without so much as Facebook being the responsible medium for conducting this séance with my past.  But because they still view me as such, I find myself at once 14, 19 and 23 years old, now playing in a nearly 51 year-old body.

A lot of life has been lived since those months and moments that were frozen in time.  The memories are the icebreakers that allow us to seamlessly gloss over the past and gracefully glide into the present.  We skate from memory even if we now live our lives in very different worlds. I'm seeingmyself in reverse.  And I realize that as it sometimes does in love, the ice can cut both ways.

Points on a Globe

"Points on a Globe"

24 x 18 Mixed Media

© Patricia A. Smith

 

 


 

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
"a young broken heart is the training bra for real heartache" What a line. You are some kind of writer!
See, this is why I called you "truthful" in that post a few months ago.

Marshall McLuhan once wrote that "we look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backward into the future". How else? It's one of those things I'd liked to have debated with McLuhan. He meant it, as I recall, in a negative sense. But how else are we to know how we wound up where we are?
This says it all for me: It is their eyes playing tricks on me.

I love that. You are so wise, Patricia.

Lezlie
Excellent and insightful.

"I am suddenly looking at everything backwards, witnessing myself through the eyes of people who see me as the same person I once was."
Isn't this how it so often goes?
"By the time life had decided to figure me out and not vice versa" is one of my favorites lines anywhere, written by anyone. And I read a lot.

There is so much thought in this piece, it's hard to know where to begin. If you do a collection. Put this in it.

What it prompts in me is ---how very many of those people are gone. Facebook or no Facebook.
What Scanner said...I realize that little love heartaches do prepare us at a young age when we don't understand mortality...it paves the way for death.
Some people, who we may love, SO want us to be who we were, but it doesn't work that way. We have moved on, and they should too. R
Nothing I am doing relates to what I was. This has been all brand new and some days I feel like I am in the film Brave New World.
Maybe I will look backwards some day. Now I am too busy paddling.
Rated with hugs
Wonderful writing Patricia. I cant, as many have, give you a favorite standout line, but even the tags are great. "When old friends collide" indeed.
Wow, does that describe it all so well!
This is so beautifully written, so fluid. Seeing yourself in reverse--yes.
This was a great piece of writing. The past is always there in one form or another. R.
I hate it when people leave their shoes on paintings.
Great piece, elegantly written.
Scanner already noted my favorite line. Every paragraph is a gem.
"By the time life had decided to figure me out and not vice versa, I understood that a young broken heart is the training bra for real heartache, that time only stands still during the most painful or challenging moments and that people from your past leave invisible fingerprints and write stories on your soul with indelible ink."

Simply wonderful.
"It is their eyes playing tricks on me."

Wow! Wish my shrink could think like this. I'd probably still be going to her. Hey! Patricia! Would you li . . never mind.
i've gone through some of this in recent years, and i find it more than a little disconcerting; sometimes on a high, sometimes oddly regretful. good piece, patricia: back and forth, drifty and sure, hits all the right places.
I squirmed around for you (and me) while I read this. I hate looking backward-it is so ancient history and the person(s) no longer exist. We are not rocks but like water droplets moving, always moving. This confirms why I avoid Facebook. Bobby the baseball guy is long gone.
And to add to Scanner's comment, I love, "By the time life had decided to figure me out and not vice versa..."

And, simply, "I'm seeing myself in reverse." I like Boanerges' comment also, marching backward into the future. It is like that isn't it? And then I always enjoy your artwork. Love the "pointer" shoe.
This is really great work, Pita. Retrospecting is tricky territory. Much the same way the light of a star was generated years ago by the time it reaches you. Frozen in the moment of another's memory. Never really thought of it quite that way before, but you are so right. And brilliant. And beautiful.
I am enjoying those reconnections as I often long for the innocence I had then.
What everyone else wrote plus "OMG" writing....I will think of this essay each time I look in the rear view mirror in my car and in my head.
Feels like you've opened your heart with this one, Patricia, and it sings, beautifully. If I didn't know it was you I would be welcoming you to OS with awe in my voice. Instead the awe has to stand on its own.
séance with my past..Such a well conceived and articulated reflection, Cartouche! Many thanks! Great read! r
This post reminds me of the Built to Spill album "You in Reverse". Excellent post.
It looks like someone left in a hurry.


`R
Nimbly and cleverly written cartouche. It reminded me in part of those high school reunions where there's always someone trying to pigeonhole others in the rolls they fit decades before.
The quote Bo references is a good one, and the comment about reunions gives rise to the question, why? I've never enjoyed going back over time. It's all so distorted now, from such a distance and through the lens of experience that has thickened with age. Great poetry in this, Pita (?)(Maybe Micheal will share that story :)
you're get-ting bet-ter all the ti-i-i-me...
Great post.

My only comparable experiences are periodic trips 'home' to see 'close' relatives interested in connections that are fairly meaningless to me...

Plow ahead! Not keen on looking back, even thru my own eyes...
Meeting again after a long absence, we search for the person we knew. We need that younger version in order to see the change in the present. And by doing so, see how we, too, have changed.

If you want to test drive a 51-year old body, over the weekend I'll be trading mine in for an older model.
Oh my suits with shoulder pads...... I am so glad thats over with. Yes i think looking at your life in reverse is something we all do but many do not glean as much as you have and so poetically.
Truly beautiful writing. "It didn’t take me long to realize that one could sink or swim in a bathtub as easily as he or she could in the sea." Your imagery is so effortless.

Thank god shoulder pads are in the past...
Always you make me think.
Oh! I loved reading this. We do get caught up in the fast forward, rewind. I strive to pause every once in a while. Pause & enjoy!
It doesn't matter how long I've been away - you still amaze with the way you write. A talent of the highest order.
So well-written and insightful. It's strange sometimes what it takes to become ourselves and then to recognize that we've changed. I hope these re-connections bring you happiness and/or peace above all.
read with much pleasure, each paragraph surprising me with the rich gifts you present so beautifully with wonderful metaphors.
"...that time only stands still during the most painful or challenging moments and that people from your past leave invisible fingerprints and write stories on your soul with indelible ink. "

so so very true. that i almost humph & amen'd to it.
Yep. Welcome to the middle of your life. You write it, as always, eloquently and with wisdom. And I love your artwork.
"By the time he crossed back over the pond, it had become an ocean with depths I could not yet fathom..." Your words are poetic and haunting. A beautiful and honest look back on your life.
I love this kind of post -- looking back, with wisdom and kindness for the person you were before, and with gratitude for the people who brought you forward -- and you do it so beautifully.