Sit Down At the Table With Yourself

23 days until India and I can’t find any music that makes sense to me anymore except remixes of the music on which my adulthood was weaned. The possibile implications of this are numerous: I’m confused as to what year it is, I’m alternately pleased I escaped those years and nostalgic, I’m living at least partly in the past. The purposeful mis-placement of the “i’ in possibile above, persistent after three attempts to change it, is the manifestation of other times, of other languages.

It’s a conversation with my younger selves.

I’m not so much living in the past, as I am being blocked from living in the immediate future. Everything lifted off the ground in late December and hasn’t settled down into its proper places at the table yet. I felt it take off on Christmas night, a great lifting and soaring much like the one that I felt arise within me in a van filled with club volleyball players years ago. The great awakening of the next part of my life, or destiny if one believes in such things.

I have to say that the magic of changing circumstances is not lost on me although my feelings on the providence of such changes is lessened. At 16, it was high Destiny taking off. At 25, it appears to be more of a chain reaction. One thing leads to the next, to the next, inevitable and guided by circumstance if not by the hand of some unseen force. Tonight I am sitting with other Coleens at the table, trying to pull myself back into riding that unseen chain and not being smashed underneath it.

“Me defundí, no hay duda,
me cambié de existencias,
cambié de piel, de lámpara, de odios,
tuve que hacerlo
no por ley ni capricho,
sino que por cadena,
me encadenó cada nueva camino,
le tomé gusto a tierra a toda tierra….”

-Pablo Neruda

Maybe the conversation includes my silent future selves as well, witnessing me holding up the ways it has all worked out thus far in defiance of the different mes who were so certain it wouldn’t ever get better.


There’s the 13 year old me, certain that high school was going to be a disaster. There’s the 17 year old me, trying to hit back at critics of her choice of university who said she was “wasting her talent” by going to an in-state school. There’s the 18 year old me, fresh off feeling the world lift up and turn over already before the actual changes began in college in the fall of 2006.  21 year old me, still teary from the outburst in Aspen and sure that there would never be a harder decision than choosing between study abroad and early graduation.

22 year old me, convinced that love was a fool’s pursuit and that I’d never find my missing puzzle piece. 23 year old me, counting rice grains silently at the end of the table and verging on running in the night from the camino che hicieron mis zapatos in Chile.

Each time I was sure that it would never work out, and each time I was wrong. I hope that the silent future Coleens are paying attention. After a year basking in the glow of at least assumed stability, the time for Adioses grows near for Korea. As usual, it appears to be putting up a fuss and kicking out in the last days, between bureaucratic craploads for the National Pension Office and a tenuous hold on a five day working week. In the floating uncertainty of the certain end of the Korean Adventure, I can’t even find songs to lead me on.

There are only the reassurances of the past Coleens telling me that they aren’t shitting me, they were every bit as lost and stressed as I am in the present. A couple of them (2006 Coleen and 2010 Coleen both seem to speak up the most) assure me that they were much more stressed, much more sick, much more confused and lost. I’m not sure that I believe them, but they have a point when they remind me that this time I am much less Alone in the Unknown.

Someday the future Coleens will no longer be silent and they will have the same conversation that I’m having with 13 year old me right now, something along the lines of “I told you so.” But nicer. More understanding. A longing to reach into the past and give myself a hug, and tell me that it won’t all fall apart. Or at least that I won’t.

It will work out. My teeth will stop grinding, I’ll figure out how to house and feed myself, and I’ll find a way to live in the same country as the man I love. Someday many years from now, I may even have a real table and not simply a shared gray desk at which to host my selves and have it out over tea. We all look forward to it.

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