I. I miss yesterday and tomorrow. I miss Superman and the way things were and could have been. I’m working to accept things the way they are, now, and the uncertainty of what they will be, tomorrow. Working double overtime not only to accept but also to love. To truly, passionately love the struggle and the heartache of being alive.
People move and move on. Like Superman. Superman was a cute dude in his mid-late twenties, if I had to guess. I think he was cute, but honestly I only ever saw the top of his head, his messy black hair. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of his tan face, brow scrunched. For context (not that it’s going to help my case, but I should explain myself): Superman lived next door to me for two years. Every evening when I came home, I could count on seeing him, head down, studying god-knows-what at his desk. I imagined it was some sort of math–there weren’t enough books for it to be humanities, but what do I know. His window was directly opposite my kitchen window, so I would wash dishes and look across the driveway at him, every night, in his red, yellow, and blue Superman T-shirt (hence the nickname), toiling away on what I assume was his dissertation. He was there until the wee hours of the morning, always with the blinds up, never looking up, just staring at his laptop or loose-leaf pages. I admired his work ethic. I took great comfort in seeing him there, even if we did not know each other, I felt that I could count on him. Simply because he was always there. I imagined that if I shouted across the way with some sort of emergency, that he would look up from his equations, put on his cape, and come to my rescue.
When I came home last May from a semester of traipsing around the globe, Superman was still around. Still working. Still wearing the same shirt. But at some point over the summer, when I was distracted with iced lattes and days at the beach, Superman moved out. I don’t remember seeing trucks or anything, but nevertheless, one day he was gone. Off to save another city. His replacement doesn’t leave the light on, so now I have no one, nothing, to look at when I wash dishes. Nothing, except for the sad, poorly measured, but beautifully colored, superman logo I drew on a piece of Xerox paper. I taped it above the sink. It’s not the same, but it’ll do. It has to.
II. In my first year of college, I sat by the window of my favorite coffee shop reading Wordsworth for a class require for the English major (I have since switched majors, life paths, pseudonyms, for any and all reasons, but that’s beside the point. Or is it?). I was sitting there by the window trying to do a make-up assignment for a class I’d missed to go to my grandmother’s husband’s funeral. I thought it was stupid that I had to write a paper for a class I’d been formally excused from via my dean’s office, but I didn’t have the gumption yet at 19 to refuse to turn in assignments that I didn’t agree with. So there I was, reading dead white guys trying to find meaning. I didn’t find any, but I found these lines that I liked a lot: “I cannot paint / What then I was. The sounding cataract / Haunted me like a passion.” It’s from “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” lines 73-75, if you’re curious. I wrote the words down in my journal. I wrote some sort of analysis of them in the form of an essay and submitted it. B-level work (a good tagline for my gravestone, if you should need one), which I was fine with. I was, after all, dealing with extraneous familial, financial, personal stress.
I’ve remembered the lines to this day, though I will admit that I only just now looked up the definition of cataract. I suspected that Wordsworth wasn’t writing about the cloudy gunk that floats around your eyes when you get old, but I didn’t know and didn’t pursue it further. (She didn’t pursue it further: another good one to put in stone and place above my buried ashes.) For anyone wondering, who did not already know, a cataract is not just an eye condition but also another word for a large waterfall. Knowing this doesn’t change my perception of the quote at all, because I was most drawn to the images of painting a past self, and of haunting passions. I still am.
III. As much as I miss yesterday and am anxious about tomorrow, I am stoked to get to live right now, here, today. I have so much work standing between me and the graduation stage, but undoubtedly it will get done. I wish a big old cataract would just wash it all away, but on the other hand, I’m actually pretty excited to see what I come up with. I love what I’m studying, and obviously love writing since I just sat here churning out little stories on a Saturday night. I’m breaking down the next 51 days into 51 discrete units (don’t ask me how I just pulled out a math term. Maybe Superman is still with me after all). I’ve been writing down the four, ten, fifteen things I need to do each day and crossing them off. It’s honestly working wonders for my general anxiety. I can tell you what I have to do tomorrow, but God help us all if you ask me what’s going on next Tuesday. Minute by minute, day by day, I’ll be chipping away at what’s left. This ridiculous college thing. We got this, folks. Thanks for always having my back. And, as always, for stopping by.
Because themes and stuff: