I’ll Keep You With Me

I don’t know why this anniversary is particularly difficult. They’re all difficult, but this one, specifically, has been harder. I wish I knew why.

He’s been gone half my life. 

It’s difficult to think that. It’s downright fucking painful, but it’s true. We were together, off and on, for a little over a year, and then he was gone. I was 17. He was 20. I’ve been without him for nearly six times the length we were together.

I’m 14 years older than he ever got to be.  I have 14 years of knowledge and experience that he never had.

It doesn’t make anything easier.

Would we still be together? Would he be proud of me, and how I’ve used his inspiration in my career direction? 

There’s a hole in my heart, shaped like him, that I don’t know if it’ll ever fill back in. Maybe I’m afraid it will. I still have photos that his mother gave me… but I don’t remember the sound of his voice.

What else am I forgetting?

God, I miss him.

I’ll bury your memories in the garden

And watch them grow with the flowers in spring

I’ll keep you with me

Cigarettes & Saints – The Wonder Years

Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?

Aaron Burr and I have something in common. At least the Aaron Burr of Hamilton. I haven’t killed a colleague or run for political office, but there’s a connection between us. While our peers raced forward into careers, we both floundered, waiting for our right moment. 

In the musical, Burr plays his cards close to his chest. He waits to see which way the wind blows and hedges his bets. He has a legacy to continue. 

Whereas I just sit around a hope to hell that something happens to propel me forward. I’m stuck, but I let myself be stuck. I complain and come up with plans, and then do nothing, content to stay in a job that short of shooting someone in a duel (like Burr) I have some job security in. 

The fantastic Leslie Odom Jr. sings “I am the one thing in life I can control/I am inimitable/I am an original” in Burr’s soliloquy “Wait For It” and that’s something I know to be true. Something that’s true of everyone.

I think a huge part of the problem is my generation was taught not to be mediocre or average. To always strive to be the best, no matter what. Even if it kills you. My generation doesn’t know how to do average (or really, what’s normal) without feeling like abject failures. Or maybe it’s just me that feels that way. 

But I am the one thing in life I can control. This is is where I leave my Aaron Burr like tendencies behind and become more like Alexander Hamilton (“How do you write like you’re running out of time?”). It’s time to become unstuck. 

So I’m applying for everything I can. Jobs in my field. Grad school programs that could further my career. Writing fellowships that I have no shot in hell of getting, but think it would be fun to apply to anyway (Amtrak’s in particular, I think traveling across country by train would be just the thing I need). 

But say none of those work out? It’s possible, certainly, but I have to try to tell my story, before I can’t any longer. 
p.s. I wish I could apologize for the gratuitous Hamilton references, but I can’t.