I’m always in my head.
Whenever something big happens, I imagine Future Me reflecting on that very moment years later in full-on Angela Chase mode, narrating every furrow of the brow, out loud and angst-filled—all while I’m living it.
That’s what happens when you grow up on The Wonder Years. And Blossom. And Clarissa Explains It All. And, the great overthinker’s bible, My So-Called Life.
It also does a couple things to a young person’s underdeveloped brain:
One, you decide talking to yourself, out loud and often, is acceptable.
Two, overanalyzing becomes your default way of thinking.
And three, you kind of miss out on some things.
You preoccupy yourself with trying to figure out what everything means before it even has a chance to become anything.
You even set some ground rules.
Big moments, you decide, come with symbolic tchotchke like streamers and cake to let oblivious you know that THIS IS A BIG DEAL, IDIOT, PAY ATTENTION.
Little moments, meanwhile, have an easier time slipping by unnoticed.
In most cases, it’s fine. I mean, they’re usually boring and lame and why waste brain space on what kind of pants your neighbor was wearing this morning unless he was wearing, like, MC Hammer pants, because, AMAZING.
What complicates things is when big moments disguise themselves as little moments, only to reveal their true selves long after they’ve passed.
I’ve tried to remedy this by always carrying a camera or a notebook and pen. It helps me relive everything, over and over, the good and the bad, with the benefit of hindsight that I use to craft neat narratives in order to make me sound much wiser and well-adjusted than I actually am.
Those otherwise inconsequential MC Hammer pants? Now they’re a symbol of my lost youth and spontaneity and inability to say, “Fuck You, slacks. I’m wearing MC Hammer pants to work today.”
But just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a transition rears its ugly head.
Neither big nor small, transitions are merely preludes to either.
Nowhere are transitions more apparent than in New York, where your favorite noodle joints, jobs, and friendships dissipate overnight, sometimes without saying bye. The city conditions us not only to accept it all with a stiff upper lip but also to expect them.
It’s why when the rare transition that you recognize as a transition passes by, in its really fucking beautiful kind of way,
you go outside
and take a picture.