My dear friend, Scott, is an archivist. I forget, sometimes, just how much of the past, my past, he has collected in various photographs. As someone who went to great pains not see themselves reflected back via the gleaming pupil of the camera, I am now deeply grateful for his persistence. In my earliest twenties I never thought I might want to look back on myself at that moment and I definitely did not expect to feel fondness for that person. It doesn’t seem like we are the same, now, or as if we ever were. That person is both more and less afraid of things, both more and less everything by comparison. (Young Ani was certainly more skilled at walking in five inch platforms, certainly less skilled at life decisions on the whole.)
(Okay, but can we just also take a moment to acknowledge those fucking shoes? I walked around in them for hours! Not comfortably by any stretch of the imagination, but long enough to take a moment of silence, man.)
To be clear, what I’m enjoying about this little blast from that past is not centered in regret, or any wish that I could be twenty one again. I don’t wish I could know what I know now, and do it all over, or anything like that. My brother had passed away not long before this was taken, I was sorting all manner of stupidity out, of the legal and personal relationship variety, and I was living on the kindness of friends quite literally, specifically on their couches. I could not be happier that this time in my life will never come again. No, I think what I feel here is distance that lets me see this self and feel more compassion for her than I had at the time, and a lot of gratitude that I survived myself. Especially considering what a complete shit show I was. Garbage fire, y’all. If not for some really good friends, I wouldn’t be here. I would be shocked if my own mortality even occurred to me at the time, or if it did, how much I cared.
Strange to have that in juxtaposition with now, when I feel an acute sense of the minutes and hours adding up, time outpacing me, and the inevitability of an ending, as it comes to us all. Did I mention that I’ve got some anxiety issues, and they start to kick their pumpkin spice flavored angst up, oh, right about now? Yeaaaaaaaah, it’s existential dread season, folks. October to probably June, because who knows who long winter will last. (Forever, obviously.)
Despite all that, I’m happy I survived the bad idea machine below. She did not care much about safety. (Hahahahah, guess what Young Ani — you drive an SUV and YOU HAVE A JOB AND YOU GO TO BED SO EARLY! HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?)
(Thanks much to Scott for taking and keeping these pictures. Love you.)