I have just finished the copyedits on my first novel, which is now going to typesetting at a publisher I didn't think I could aspire to; by midwinter my book will be in those school book fairs I loved so much as a kid. At work, I've just been promoted into the next job classification; as high as I can go unless I want to work evenings. And I don't: For someone who's been an introvert all her life, I spend an awful lot of time at concerts and readings and out at dinner and attending artsy social media geek sorts of parties. I pissed away my early twenties working 60-hour weeks to keep a roof over my head, and I've spent the last year and change resolved to make up for that now that my job and income are stable. I've had my heart broken more times in the last year than I have in the five before that, and I'm surprisingly okay with that, because it means I'm actually using the muscle again. I am planning to buy a bike.
I spend a lot of time stretched too thin, overbooked, and very tired.
I have never been more engaged with the world around me, in all its little details and oddities. I have never felt more alive.
In March 2001, I am 18, and I am a mess. I live in North York with my boyfriend, who scooped me up and moved me in four months before, after a familial falling out so severe that I can no longer live under the same roof as my parents and what at this time feels like a death blow to my chosen career (classical voice performance; yes, I was going to be an opera singer). I have my high school diploma, but I've left school one OAC credit short of a university admission application, and I'm in no real state to care about that yet; I'm so much a mess that I have no concrete idea of how messed up I am and will not for years. Ironically, this month I have found out that for my other four years of academic and extracurricular excellence, I've been named a National Book Award recipient. Later, this will get me admission at the university of my choice in under a week.
I'm working at a hippie/Indian stuff/Eastern/whatever store at Yonge and Bloor, and have vague notions of trying to move down into the city although I don't know how it can be afforded. I've left both friends and hobbies in my old neighbourhood, along with most of what used to define me in the ecosystem; I don't feel like I belong with any of it anymore anyways. I don't know who I am. I don't know where I'm going. I have always had some idea of where I was going, even if it was someone else's idea grafted onto my own head and my own wants, and I am not admitting it to myself in this day-by-day existence I'm leading, but I am terrified.
I have not yet started to write fiction again, and won't for three months. Writing is something I used to do when I was a kid because I had no friends. I grew out of it.
In March 1991, I am eight and shy and taciturn, and there are all these things floating around in my head. There's a kids' word processing program on the hand-me-down family computer, something from my father's business that he's passed on to us. I have taught myself to touch type, and I use it to write my stories down. All my stories are four pages long, because the document size the program creates is only four pages. When I start what I consider my first long-form work, even though it'll only top out at novelette length, I will write it in chapters of four pages each.
I'm good at school, but I'm bad at people. The teachers all love me, but it's souring a little since we started homework and I've immediately not wanted to do it; it's cutting into my reading and writing time. I have recently got huge red-framed glasses for the nearsightedness, but this is not why I get picked on. I spend a lot of time in the library, reading Agatha Christies and Susan Coopers. I spend recess in the back field behind the schoolyard, inspecting wildflowers and the ornamental bushes pushing wild through the chain-link fence from the backyards on the other side, and pretending myself a magic kingdom. The boy I've known since we were babies, my best friend, has recently distanced himself. I'm friends now with a girl who lives in midtown, exotically far away for me, in a house next door to her grandmother's. We pick chives from her grandmother's garden and eat them raw.
I don't know if I'm unhappy or not at this point. I don't honestly have much basis for comparison.
Under the covers at night, I turn on my flashlight and read my kids' almanac, naming the constellations and matching them with the names in the pantheons two chapters ahead. At eight years old, I am going to be a chemist. Or an astronomer. Or an archaeologist.
Someday, later, I am going to be something.
In March 1981, I don't exist yet. Not even as some cell division. And so of course, at this point? Everything's possible.