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Going Backwards

In the early 80's there was a cartoon on Saturday mornings by the good people at filmation called "Hero High". When I was 6 it was the most amazing thing ever. Several years ago, via the magic of netflix, I relived my Saturday mornings of yesteryear trying to re-establish in my mind the wonder and bright shine of a 6 year old with a super hero jones sitting on an oval braided rug, enjoying a mixing bowl filled with fruit loops and milk, in front of a tv my whole body could have fit in. I wanted to hear the train rush by my apartment window. I wanted to smell the paint fumes from the auto-body shop my step father owned below. I wanted to bask in the wonder of super humans fighting crime and going to study hall. I wanted to remember what it was like before I knew the things I know. For 22 minutes I wanted to travel in time, I even had the bowl of fruit loops.

Didn't quite work out that way.

See, Hero sucks. It's just awful. There is nothing to recommend that little bit of, I can't even call it confection. It's like the booger flavored Bertie Botts every flavor bean, it's cool that it's there cuz it was, y'know, in the book, but you sure as hell don't want to eat it. I couldn't even view it as a guilty pleasure, I couldn't view it at all. It was unwatchable. At one point I remember thinking "maybe it will get better deeper into the season..." like it was "The Wire" or something featuring a sentient surf board. While I'm very capable of being immature, I do not, it seems, have the ability to un-mature.

It did however allow me to see something I hadn't really paid much attention to before, exactly how far I have come. Even now I can't help but smile at the thought of how cute I must have been in my generic space character two piece matching pajamas sitting Indian style on the old rug because the couch was too far and any closer my mum would tell me "you're hurting your eyes!". I enjoyed the memory of that moment in time without feeling it's loss. I escaped the trap of nostalgia and fell head long into the warm embrace of a happy recollection. Distance wasn't going to do that, i needed closeness.

Sometimes to see where you are you have to be looking at it from where you've been.

So it was with my recent return trip to Maine. Time spent with family and friends but, and hopefully they will not be offended by this, most importantly with myself.

I spent eight days kind of paying attention to myself, my thoughts, looking at the places, the people, the things that made me who I am. I didn't do anything while I was on vacation that didn't involve me saying to myself "how did I get here, what am I learning right now."

I started with music. I jacked my phone up with dozens of hours of music because I was going to be doing dozens of hours of driving. I had a single rule, once it started it couldn't stop. I couldn't skip any songs. I wanted to make myself listen to the stuff I've taken the time to get over the years not just the 60 or so songs I really loved. It was a pretty awesome experiment, It was a nice mix and each song reminded me of something, whether it was meeting Ken Burns at my old book store every time something from his "Jazz" collection came on, or the gentle curves and and moonlight sparkle of the face of that girl I desperately wanted to kiss in the 11th grade when "Under the Milky Way" came on. At one point I became so rapturously involved in a memory sparked by a Portishead song that I totally missed my exit in Massachusetts, which was okay because that just started another memory about times I've spent in Mass. Equally awesome is that now every time I hear certain songs by Lana Del Rey I'm going to remember this trip.

Then there was people. The first night of my trip was meant to be spent with the woman I used to be married to and her girlfriend...(yeah, there's a story there, in good time) They live in New Hampshire and I wanted to visit. I arrived in mid afternoon. They have been inspired to start eating like me so I got to give them some in-person advice. And we spent some time together helping the girlfriend master the fine art of driving for her drivers exam later that week. We mostly just drove around to various New Hampshire towns, ate at restaurants (an amazing Brazillian one in the the shadiest part of New Hampshire i've ever been) that could keep us "in program" and spent time with each other. It was wonderful being back in their company, being back in New England. While sipping some French press at a little restaurant in Manchester I realized what a testament to three pretty amazing people this evening was. I was saddened that everyone's marriage couldn't end the way mine did. We tried so hard, so hard. It seems that none of us have lost sight of that or the reasons we tried.

The universe is a wacky place, if someone had told me 10 years ago that I wouldn't be married, and that she was going to be in a new relationship and that I would love both of them in a new and amazing way I wouldn't have believed them. Yet there I was deciding to spend another night at their place instead of carrying on to Maine.

I did eventually get to my home though, I spent quality time with my brother and sister-in-law and my sister and brother-in-law. It was interesting seeing the similarities and differences between my siblings and I. My interests largely seem to stem from my sister, and my convictions largely seem to stem from my brother, and my mother kind of oversees it all. This isn't to say that I have the same interests or convictions of any of them, but you can certainly see the genealogy of what I believe in my family. My religious tolerance is a result of my sister being devoutly religious, My libertarian streak has been directly shaped by my brother being kind of old school conservative, my mother however is why I am a bleeding heart, so somehow I found a balance of all that. It makes election day complicated for me...but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I spent time with old, dear, friends. We relived our youths, we updated each other on our currents. I realized that "my type" if i were to have one, was greatly informed by a sweet girl I've known since i was 15.The scaffolding of my sense of humor is completely built by My "downeastah" buddy. I was in a program called Upward Bound when I was in High school. We were having a reunion, and when I got together with people I hadn't seen since the last reunion it was so nice to see all the various directions we've gone. I was shocked to discover that one of us, wasn't even one of us! He'd just been around so long and was so completely a member of the group that I never bothered to ask "hey why don't I ever see you at the classes?" This was shocking! What else have I just assumed my whole life? I think that's the best way to be a part of a group though. He'll always be one of us, regardless of registration status.

I think the biggest revelation I had though was about, not surprisingly, food. See when I go on vacation to any place that's not Maine, I seek out trendy little organic restaurants for locavores. Bakeries with cutesie names that are pastry puns. Bars that feature craft brews and Tapas. I'm kind of a foodie, when I travel, that comes out. Not, though, when I go home to Maine. I seek out the gnarliest, white-trashiest, food you can possible imagine. Gas station pizza, Governor's restaurants (oh my god! so yummy), Red hot dogs (they are thing, a delicious delicious thing), Corned beef hash at a truck stop. Grapenut Icecream (also a thing), Needhams (an AHMAZING THING), Toms Bacon Cheddar Fries, Moxie, Chester Fried Chicken, Creme Horns (twice as sexual as they sound!). I could, theoretically eat all my vacations food from a gas station, and be perversely content. When I'm home in Maine the normal valves that say "stop eating now" don't work so well with Whoopie pies, and I asked myself... why? My answer was "because when you leave you won't be able to get this stuff, it's scarce, it's precious."

Just like tetris it all came together. I grew up poor,not what middle class people think is poor, i mean, really poor. I have a profound, written into my genome, fear of scarcity. When something is on sale buy-one-get-one free I buy 10, because when is that ever going to happen again. When I had cable I had all the cable. I surround myself with a fort knox of books and comics because what if someone wants to borrow one? What if I need to reference it? What if, at some point in the future a really cute girl is in my house and the thing that seals the deal is that I have every single Doctor Who episode Novelization published in the 80's by Target publishing? That could happen...right? well I better have 'em just in case. I've recently been called a Container Whore, because I like things that hold things even if I never use them for anything. But what if I need one some day? I'll be so upset if I don't have it. My fear of scarcity extends to boxes...that is...well that is just stupid. I'm just terrified in my bones that I won't be able to get something I love...or even, just like.

I'm constantly preparing for winter. Thats a lot of anxiety.

Here is the distance part though...I'm not really like that any more. I mean, yes, sure, I have these quirks and things that pop back up when I'm doing something special like being on vacation once every 2 years. But when I'm in my house, just living my life, living this new way of life i've embraced. I'm not riddled with the fear of scarcity. I understand that I will get back to a gas station in central Maine. I understand that even though It's Tuesday and I'm pretty much just going to eat beans and spinach for the next 6 days, on the 7th, I can eat whatever i want. It's okay. There's no need to fear. If something comes up where suddenly Swedish Fish become a precious commodity, well... we have bigger problems than my waist line.

Mothers, Brothers, Sisters, Women I was married to and their Girl friends, Old friends, old crushes, The ocean, the mountains, the music of my life are all the engines of time travel for me, vectors to the past. More than that, they are the bricks that have built me. They are the reason for my present, and they are lens through which I see myself as I truly am. They are the the giant TV and the Braided rug and the Bowl of fruit loops.

I have escaped the trap of nostalgia and recollection and fallen into the warm embrace of now.

Sometimes you have to go back to then, to realize that now is the best time ever.


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