Decimations

What are my decades, that I’m free to just Deep Six them all?

Have you ever considered time this way, too?

After I returned from England in December 1989, I was determined the 1990s would be my decade.

There was a draft screenplay that needed rewriting, sure. But since I’d put it out into the world, others seemed to see its potential. I was sure I was onto something. No more in-the-closet dreamer stuff!

I was gonna make things real.

So, on Friday, Dec. 15, 1989, I wrote in the journal, “What have we done in the Eighties? The Nineties have to be better!”

I was back at the job, and hanging out with old high school friends. It was an odd transition.

“I wanted to write,” the journal continues, “about all the dreams I’ve had lately—every night: many dreams, some borderline nightmares—I wish I could recall one, but there’s a vague undercurrent: me & some attractive girl (British, it seems) but we can’t stay together. The melancholy I feel from waking! But the dreams are densely packed with Things: cluttered houses, toys, buses, clothes & underwear, garbage, emotions shift from disgust to curiosity and wonder. Hmm.” No mention of New Year’s Eve festivities from 1989 to 1990. I’d gotten so used to slicing and dicing decades that I wasn’t sure I cared anymore. It was a shock, as I recall. Changes were called for: Leave corporate life. Find my calling. Be in the world, as I’d done in England. That was entirely clear to me.

The journal doesn’t pick up again until Tuesday, March 6, 1990. That day I declared the 1990s “had begun.”

“I’d felt I was treading water going into my new decade,” says the entry, “[all] part of the shock of completing a first draft, traveling alone in a foreign country and coming back to NOTHING. I realized in the back of my mind that from now on I had to MAKE my life, I could count on no one to set things up for me.”

***

It is now “Twenty-Eighteen” (not “Two-Thousand Eighteen”).

It still feels weird to even say that.

My first decade was 1960–69: I’d call those 10 years “Hungers.” They’re still golden in my memory, even though some raw history passed by. And now I think I know why: I was loved as a child and felt it in every atom of my body (photo at right with brother Brian, late 1960s).

That’s the takeaway going into my second decade: “I was born into a loving family.”

Then came the 1970s: the “Decade of the Unhappy Teenager.” Because I knew I was loved, I tested my family at every turn. I was a churning cauldron of self-doubt, anxiety, early depression, and—well, also something positive: a young writer who was being read by his peers. During junior high lunchtime gossip, I passed my short stories around. Kids took them home and read them. Next day, they gave me feedback over the same lunchroom table. It was a big leg-up for my self-esteem. Later, in high school, I became co-editor of the student newspaper. I wrote a monthly column that tested the patience of school administrators, teachers, and—again—my parents.

Decade takeaway: “You will survive this. But how? Use it in your art, young Jedi.”

My third decade, where we are now in the 1980s, was all about “Blooming,” even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I gained skills that serve me to this day: typing, editing words, mashing up ideas, images, and my readings to create something new. I went to college but, failing to graduate, still landed a fulltime job in my hometown. I lived again with the parents until another college attempt in 1984, then yet another job and first apartment in 1986. The screenplay, which lead to the aforementioned British trip, started in 1988.

The ’80s big takeaway? “Your art can be anything: writing, photography, painting, drawing, music, philosophy. Keep building; keep blooming.”

So here we are at the end of 1989.

And soon it will be the end of 2018.

Wow. Three decades.

The years are decimating.

I could give you the short answer on how the 1990s turned out.

Or you could follow along as I plow forward, continuing Completely in the Dark for yet another year. It’s a convoluted story and taking it all in one gulp is overwhelming. (For me as well as for you. But here’s a taste, at left: with nephew Colin, my brother’s darling firstborn son, in the mid-1990s.)

It’s natural to want to peer into the future, speculate about what might happen in the next decade.

But looking back at the time already passed, there are deeper layers that will probably become more exposed in the new decade. I don’t know, but I suspect that will be the case.

And I’m curious to see how the story unfolds.

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~ by completelyinthedark on May 11, 2018.

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