journeys become memories
sometime in the middle of college - during what turned out to be a particularly bad winter season - i took a 8am class much too far of a distance from where i lived. younger and more vulnerable to dumb ideas me thought excitement would carry me through the whole semester. it did for 3 weeks. the rest of the semester i let college anxiety carry me. this class came at the juncture of “figuring out what i wanted to do in life” and i promised myself, and more importantly everyone around me, that after this class i would know what “life path” and “career” i would go down. so for a full 4 months i woke up at 7am and trekked for 30 minutes in my first real winter to get to a class that supposedly was going to help me figure it all out.
ive been thinking a lot about memories and what parts of my life I remember and choose to remember. this 7am walk is imprinted in my mind - i can remember clearly how dense the air felt at 7am. how fresh uncracked ice felt on that sidewalk. how the sun rose 30 minutes before and everything was doubly bright and doubly quiet because of the snow. i remember almost clearly what albums I listened to on that walk - how I would try to choose the perfect set of songs before leaving because taking your hands out of your pockets in that weather wasn’t an option. I don’t remember large swaths of college but I do remember every turn of that walk.
im realizing now in life that i end up remembering journeys more often than not - particular journeys that feel like they capture an important moment in time.
another journey i think about a lot these days is biking to middle school. i remember moving to a new school and a new neighborhood, running out the door far later than i should have, getting on a bike passed through too many hands and ridden for too many miles, tucking my phone into my pocket with the speakers facing out and playing my favorite song on loop for the 15 minutes i would peddle through and around houses trying to get to school on time. i couldn’t tell you a lot about middle school, what classes i signed up for, most of my teachers names, but I can tell you every pedal of that bike ride. i can tell you how halfway through the year I discovered a shortcut through behind a row of houses that meant biking though weeds but getting to school a few minutes faster. i can tell you how i figured out the perfect foot placement for every pair of shoes i owned (four) so they didn’t get grease marks all over the side - a hard learned lesson when I fucked up my prized (albeit very used hand me downs) Jordan 4s. that 15 minute bike ride is my clearest and strongest memory of all of middle school.
im not sure why over the years these journeys have stuck out to me. im sure it’s partly because I repeated them day in day out. but I also think it’s because these journeys were my only moments to myself - moments where i was on my way to something that felt, at the time, life consuming. and all you can really do in those moments is take everything in.
nowdays, whenever I hear smack that by akon anywhere I can’t help but hear it through the garbled sound of a 2007 phone with speakers hidden behind denim pockets, lyrics muffled by the wind as I peddled through houston. i can’t help but feel like I’m on my shitty bike on my way to school.
these days i’ve been walking and taking public transit as much as I can, especially on my way to work. i’m not sure which of the journeys i take right now will stick with me in the same way. i’m not sure which song will take me back to feeling like I’m standing in the middle of a crowded MUNI bus trying to focus on the music and not everyone around me. i have some guesses, but i’ll wait to find out for sure in 10 years.
P.S. the word journey feels so corny (if we’re being real these are just commutes) but it feels right so you’ll just have to deal with it