Friday, February 13, 2009


Lately I've been nearly overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia. I've been avoiding writing in the blog, because I'm afraid I will be too sappy.

Part of it is the number of people I've reconnected with lately. For about eighteen months, since our high school reunion, with several close high school friends I'd lost touch with. And I just joined Facebook, against my better judgment, to connect to college friends who used to write on an active listserve. They all went over to Facebook and I miss them. But now instead of the fifteen or so folks who did that, some of whom I only knew on the listserve, I have like 50 correspondents, people I knew oh so long ago and who knew me when I was 19 or even 13. I've kept my friend list only to college acquantances. And there they are with their photos and the photos of their children, and it's a little overwhelming-- all those lives in all those places, truly all over the world. In a way it makes one feel connected, but it also makes me feel a little lonely-- like there are all these distances, all these fragments. And of course worrying just like in high school and college if people will be my friend!

Facebook itself is very fragmented, very daily, with people posting what they are doing right now, and posting links to articles and taking quizes and posting their scores and inviting people to make lists and answer questions... One person filling my box with "gifts" like ball gowns and chocolate and spiritual mandalas. It's craziness that I think I have to learn how to navigate-- what will I participate in and what will I not.

Mostly I've liked seeing people's pictures. Jake playing the lute, Jeanne's retrospective of ten years of pictures of her son in honor of his first decade. I wanted to post Billy Collins's poem "On Turning Ten" on there, but kind of got distracted and didn't figure out how to do such a thing. It's a great poem, one of my favorites, about nostalgia. How silly we are, taking ourselves oh so seriously. How happy I am to be here, and 44. So then, in this staid forum, a poem:

On Turning Ten
by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.

But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

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