Notes to Self

August 11, 2014, 8:20 pm, “I was engaged when I met your grandfather.”

There’s so much I want to know. Every time any one of my grandparents talks or tells stories about their past, I want to soak it all up, to store this oral history, to save it so that my children’s children’s children can hear about their ancestors. I want to know about my family. Who did my grandmother leave for my grandfather? What did her ex-fiancé think? What did she think? I know my grandmother lived in Brooklyn, and so did my grandfather. I know my grandfather’s father came from Russia in the 1930s—I’ve seen his name engraved on the wall at Ellis Island. Did he escape pogroms? Why did he leave? I know only bare bones of their story. I want more. 

July 7, 2014, 8:50 am, “Do the motion that hurts”

This is the only advice that has stuck with me from physical therapy. It’s a reminder of green key weekend 2014 and that I still don’t have full range of motion in my left wrist. When I go skiing, or when I try to do a push-up and fail, or when I attempt yoga twice a term, a tinge of pain shoots through my wrist. Do the motion that hurts. Remind yourself of the injury. Maybe repeat the motion enough times and it will go away. 

October 26, 2014, 9:46 pm, “What’s in your gut is not always true. I have to acknowledge the fact that it might feel right—it might be that feeling that this is the thing I should do—but take a step back and there’s an objectively better thing.”

A phone call from a best friend, reminding me to not always trust my gut. Sometimes crushes are just crushing, and unrequited feelings are just that. 

March 17, 2014, 4:24 pm, “One day we bumped into each other and I was like, hi, I’m Whitney and he’s like, hi, I’m Jack and then we started playing with each other and one day we were in a quiet corner and I was like, do you want to be my boyfriend, and he said yes and then he said do you want to be my girlfriend and I said yes took ya long enough and now we’re in love.”

There were these six-year-old twin girls I babysat one summer when I was also their camp counselor. I miss being a counselor – not for the pay that was less than minimum wage, or the days when it rained and we were stuck in our bunk with minimal entertainment.  No, I actually miss being surrounded by kindergartners all day. When I came home over break and watched them for an afternoon, I learned one had a boyfriend. Kindergartners find love much easier than college students. 

May 14, 2015, 12:10 am, “I’m not gonna raise from the dead I’m gonna go to bed. I don’t wanna bring you down cause I’m not gonna raise back up.” 

And I picture my friend, as I held her hair over the trashcan, rhyming in drunken incoherence, repeating those phrases, trying to convince me to leave her and go back out to celebrate the Wednesday. Saved for posterity and a reminder of those kinds of nights. A reminder that this is what friends do, this is what friends are for, this is what college can be. Days always seem to go as planned; nights rarely go as expected. 

December 19, 2014, 7:42pm, “They thought Peter was their mother.” 
“He wouldn’t let anyone touch their kittens.”
“Grandma ran one over.” 

There’s this photo that hangs in our basement that my mom had enlarged for my dad’s fiftieth birthday. It is my dad at age ten or so squeezing two kittens with three others in his lap. He emanates joy. I know very little about my Dad’s childhood. Maybe because I don’t ask enough, or because my grandma has a limited repertoire of the same few stories she tells over and over again. He sat in the family car Friday afternoon hours before the family drove up to Vermont to ski for the weekend; he was afraid of being left behind. He hated the feel of sand on his toes. He biked to the tennis courts to play before school started. Two of his cats were named Midnight and Lightning. And he was possessive over his kittens. 

September 25, 2014, 2:41 pm. “Avienu malkeinu, inscribe us for blessing in the book of life”

First time I was celebrating the New Year away from home. Went to services alone, miserable that I was alone and away from home and not seeing my cousins and my grandparents and trying to feel some semblance of what I was used to. I was compelled to go out of obligation to my family, not like they would care if I didn’t go. But I knew I had to. I always forget the prayers once I leave. I can never recall the words, and each year I wish I could steal a prayer book. I never do.

June 14th, 2015, 1:04 pm, “There are three things you can get: a challenging, interesting job, a good lifestyle, and good money. You can’t have all three at once.”

My mom was an investment banker before she was my mom. I wonder which of the three that job offered her. I wonder who told her about that pick-two-and-only-two job triangle, or if it is a theory she came up with herself. I wonder if she’s content with her triangle now, and wonder if I will be content with mine.

March 22nd, 2015, 1:34 pm, “Looking?”
“Ah…no…”
“Then how’re you gonna know when you found it?” (450)

I watched the sunrise over spring break for the first time in a while, and found myself wishing I could be a morning person. There’s so much promise. The morning offers this limitless sense of time with no signs that the day is ever planning to end. The clear sky quickly clouded over and turned into rain and I read A Brief History of Seven Killings, underlining passages I would reference later in my book blog—the one no one reads but my grandmother. This line was the only one I kept after I wrote my review….how am I going to know when I find what I’m looking for? Will I miss it, or forget it, if I don’t document it? 

July 22 2014, 9:10 pm, “Happiness is a balance between the three versions of yourself – past, present and future.”

During a Q&A with Ellar Coltrane, the boy (now no longer a boy) from Boyhood at my local movie theater – and I hate myself for not writing down the question he was answering. Quotes are powerful out of context. Happiness is a balancing act.