Young and Old

I suppose this is how it feels like to be young and old simultaneously.  You feel the residual elements of youth, high school and college, percolating in your mind.  Sometimes you dream of these rustic faces, suddenly unearthed. The memory is raw and real, they are frozen in time, being exactly how you remembered them before. I don’t know how I deal with these dreams, do I look up this long lost person on Facebook? What does it mean suddenly be reminded of this echo memory? Do you just bury them in the past hoping they won’t come back? I remembered this girl named Anna. We were in second grade together, back when I hadn’t stayed back a grade. I usually don’t talk about being pulled back a grade because they are painful memories. I remember how strange it was to enter into another class the first time, the  stickers of the names desks with kids who were a grade below me, and there was my name, and now I was one of them. It felt crazy seeing my other friends going back to class when my recess time had started, and there was a massive confusion for some of my students seeing that I disappeared, and reappeared in another grade. It was an unrooting, and upheaval of the world I knew, and to this day, it still haunts me. I still remember how alienated it felt to be planted in a grade below me, how degrading and embarrassing it felt. To be honest, I was one of the younger kids in kindergarten, and now they had put me back in my rightful grade. Despite the awkwardness, I would occasionally see Anna. She was always kind and nice to me, although we were in different grades, in fact, I think we were friends at one point.

The years went by, I got Harry Potter glasses, grew a little taller, and was going through puberty. I didn’t talk with girls much, although I had casual friends who were girls. I started running on the track team, and I was all up in arms, ready to impress people with my long distance strides. I knew Anna ran on the long distance track team, because she ran on the cross-country team as well. We rarely talked, because at that time, I was a pretty shy guy, I didn’t talk to many girls, especially girls whom I thought were attractive. But it was the first day, and I was going to run some laps on a small track, but I realized that I hadn’t ran in the last six months or so. I shrugged it off, thinking I shouldn’t take things easy but face obstacles head-on. I ran with the long distance runners several laps, and I was feeling weak at the feet and out of breath pretty quickly. Next thing you know, I’m sagging like a balloon out of air, but I’m still trying my best, and pushing myself further. For a long time, I never knew my limits, and when you run beyond your limit, two things happen. First, you either get severely injured, or you throw-up. I chose the latter, I threw up on the side of the field, at the most inconvenient time, while the girls were running by. Anna stopped and asked if I was all right. I tried to play it off, saying it felt better to throw up, and I started walking away, wiping barf off my nose and hands with leaves. I got pretty embarrassed easily back then, and I was pretty red in the face. This was not how I wanted my season to have started off. She was always kind to me, although we never talked much. She started dating some guy, I think his name was Will, on my cross country team. I never heard much about it later, when they broke it off. I don’t know why girls fall for the jerks anyways.

For much of my high school life, I remember that girls never liked me. They didn’t find me attractive, and I was usually too shy to ask a girl out. It strange now that I’m older, I see more girls seeing me as handsome, cute, and attractive. This was a huge change, from when I was treated as a geek and quiet weirdo who hang out with a motley sort of crew, to an intelligent, quiet, cute looking Asian guy. I was always too self-aware, the guy who stood with his hands in his pockets while couples slow-danced at a bar-mitzvah (I remember this fairly vividly) . It was only when I got back from college when people started noticing me. I came back for a class reunion picnic and I remember being seen and noticed because I had contacts on. I had felt like an underdog and a loser my whole life, and now people around me were treating me so differently. Girls actually noticed me; people paid more attention to me. But in some ways, I realized how shallow people were around me, they didn’t know anything about me, they didn’t know the suffering and shame in high school that I felt. And in some ways I still trust people, because I realize how judgmental and incredibly superficial some people are, people will just look at your outer appearance and make judgments, and accusations right away.

So this is how it feels like to feel old, with miles underneath your belt, but feel and look young.

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