Sometimes, when Alissa is asleep and I'm not going to bed for another hour or so, I go into my old facebook albums (back when I used to actually post albums) and look through them. Mostly I'm visualizing the moments when pictures were taking and trying to remember how I felt at the time.
I look at the comments and the picture tags, and I come across people whose existence I entirely forgot. And this is most specifically from 2007 to 2012 or so, right up until the point when I got a better smartphone, and instagram, and started posting individual pictures more than giant photo dumps after a fun weekend.
There's a few things I notice. Like I mentioned, I remember people from back then, and I see what in the world they're doing now, and it's cool to see how many of them (or, us, I should say) have found a path, and a partner, and a place in the world.
I remember how I felt on those 5 am nights in Seoul, and I see the comments on all the pictures, and how I looked in them, and it's no wonder people thought of me what they thought. I was basically a hot air balloon, and I was afraid stop being so puffed up lest I come crashing to the ground.
A lot of us were like that. A lot of us were scared. For all but a small percentage of folks, adolescence and young adulthood is kind of terrifying. It all worked out for me, but it easily might not have. I told Alissa the other night that, had I not gotten off the elevator at that very specific moment, I probably wouldn't have got her off guard and gotten a smile out of her in the first second.
Part of me feels ashamed I was so full of false bluster and that I careened between such hills and valleys instead of just being honest with myself and thus everyone else. It was too hard, though, to just live within my skin, because I didn't feel comfortable there. I created someone to protect me, someone who didn't really exist on his own but without whom I couldn't navigate the world.
Ultimately, although it caused a lot of people to have an impression of me that isn't really aligned with who I've grown into, I owe the Captain a lot. He knew just being authentic at the time would have been too difficult. It does feel cowardly, but it happened because it had to.
I compare all of those albums, where, taking pictures with people with my mouth wide open (even when dead sober), to my wedding(s) last year, when we were surrounded by genuine, lasting love and appreciation, to my surprise party on my birthday, to this past weekend's karaoke, when the fun I was having was not at all a put-on or full of it.
I talk about this stuff a lot because I find it interesting, to experience the change from feinting joy to feeling it, and to know and see the difference. There is so much less fear now. And I hope for all that I know and love that they aren't as scared as I once was. And if they are, I hope they can someday know what I have of late.