I was a dreamer then.
Last year my nephew, the only child to my eldest sibling, turned the age I was when he was born and will be graduating from high school in May.
Realizing this, it wasn’t hard to return to thoughts of senior year. And even less when I pulled out the journals I bore my heart and soul to thirteen years ago and had never bothered to reread. Several entries resulted in heaving laughter. Like the ones that droned on and on about the ridiculous fights over who said what to who that sent me deeper back to high school than I really wanted to go.
Others triggered pause and natural bookmarks for that night’s reading—like the multiple entries reiterating my overwhelming need to leave El Paso. Not because I loathed it, but because more than anything it seemed to restrict my ability to be a young gay man or at least the young gay man I thought I wanted to be.
Surprisingly throughout there were also so many pages lined with thoughts of hope—a car, career, love, a family and a hundred different expectations I put on a future self. Of course these expectations were set when I was unaware of the difficult choices you have to make growing up. Choices that at the time, didn’t seem like they would make the slightest difference.
I’m not sure I will ever grow up to be the man my eighteen-year-old-self thought I was going to be. And it’s difficult to not to take inventory of what I have and don’t feeling the years starting to bearing down. It's not only age, but the events of our lives that force us to examine it closer. As I get older, I also continue to learn how to appreciate the elements that truly bring value to my life--a practice I find calms my questions.
I see a lot of myself in my nephew and I wish I could transfer all I have learned to him—a thought that pops into my mind so many times after listening to some of the problems he faces. Some lessons are easier to explain and others have the necessity of experience. I imagine he’s drawn his own composite of his future self and times I am envious of the opportunity he has for making his dreams come true as he takes the steps towards this rite of passage.
And yes, I’ll probably have other intersections in my life when I question my life’s inventory. Ask myself all over again… Is this where I thought I’d be? Had I met the right people? Been to the right places? Found the truths I had sought to find in this not-so-crowded city only thirteen years ago?
For now, I can say: Of course not. Yes. Who knows and there’s still time. Yes, but only to reveal more questions.
And I continue to dream.