I'm Stephanie.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

post xiv: Youth and Morning Deconstructed

About exactly a year ago now, I "finished" a set of poems I referred to as "Youth Morning."  In discussing these poems with Martin Corless-Smith, poet, professor, and friend, it became apparent to me that without my intentions, I had become fixated on youth and young adulthood.  I saw mornings as symbolically synonymous with youth, in that both are a time of hope, thought, newness, plans, and ideally, of awareness.  Inversely, youth and mornings are potentially also a representative of a time of horror, anxiety, dreaded weight of the future day (or lifespan), and of wanting to go back - to bed / to dreaming, or to early childhood / infancy / safety / a place of no obligation or judgement.  Being in bed, and being a small child have a lot in common it seems, but perhaps I'm stretching metaphor for my own current use.
Both youth and mornings are also the times to ask and to decide who you are and who you want to be and to fulfill this want through action.  Both are times to get shit done, so to speak.  To allow experiences to stack up so that the day as a whole has a greater worth than it would have if you breezed through the morning (slash-youth).
Very simply though, the mornings were the time I found myself writing the most often, and I think this is largely where this comparison arose.  This comparison also works for me and may not work for others though because I am a rabid morning person.  Even after a hard long night of studying, working, or um, partying I guess, I never skip my mornings.  I need the perpetual renewal, more than I need breakfast...although breakfast often does call to me.  I also need and crave the (seemingly contradictory) predictable newness.
I need for the newness of the morning to always be there, because the newness on the greater scale of a lifetime will not and cannot always be there.  I'm coming deeper and deeper into my skin and my identity, and for the most part I feel really good about it.  But I do, truly at times, miss the volatility of adolescence.  At times, I miss the fire.  How my emotions always had the safety off.  How I truly did not "give a fuck" (although this was largely due to a seething depression which I still carry the now-manageable remnants of) and all at once gave the biggest, most heart-felt fucks imaginable.  Often, I saw the world as cruel, unmanageable, nonsensical, callous, unjust, conformist, violent, and potentially-hopeless.  This would twist my guts so deeply that I would be paralyzed in despair and in fear that I was created to be a part of this very world of corruption, cruelty, and conformity.  Needless to say, I ditched a lot of high school because I was overwhelmed by my perceived realities.  High school itself was very much a construction of these horrors.
The thing is though, I think I was often right.

I remember being asked in eating disorder counseling if I would "rather be happy" or would I "rather be right."  I remember answering definitively, passionately, that I'd rather be right
I was more certain of things as an adolescent than I am now.  Maybe I was more "right."  I was vegan, anti-corporate, hyper-liberal, and could see the utter failings of the systems set in place for me to follow.  I still carry remnants of these things as well, but now it is with more compassion than vigilance, more personal rationalism than rebellion, and I am fully aware of my own obedient role within several systems.

At 24, it's difficult to say that I'm fully away from youth, but I feel that it is inching away in subtle increments.  Some of these increments make me sad.  Some make me relieved.  All of them make me feel, bit by bit, different.  Some aspects of youth, I don't expect to ever lose, because I think they've been misclassified as youthful characteristics.  But some, such as walking over a major bridge in Boise with mostly-empty wine cartons in my purse, publicly smoking a joint (in anti-weed-crazy Idaho) with a boy I've just met before toppling back to on-campus housing is probably something I won't do again (well, not exactly).
Student housing; bright colors and Totoro posters:

Being female, I feel that youth is played up far too much for the usual sexist considerations of beauty, virginity, and innocence.  As much as we live in a sexist, often-racist society, we also live in a society that lumps agism deeply into that equation.
What writing the poems about these times has enabled me to do, is to not take these aspects of the female youth experience for granted, as I did as an actual female youth, usually too busy wallowing in an issue of global importance to notice how loved and how liked I actually was, or that I too, was one of the mystical creatures known as the female youth.
The speakers of the poems, not me at any age, but a separate created "I" at times containing flecks of my self, are fully aware of the power that rests in being young, pure, attractive, and as a result, manipulative.  The speakers of the poems seem to operate in a subversion of the innocent to create a knowing power, as many women/girls in real life and in literature have done and will continue to do.
 When writing the poems, early in the mornings before work/school in Boise, sipping on coffee and soy milk, munching on fruit, I'd often feel as though I had a certain level of control over time and perception.  I felt like with the poems I had created a stronger "I" than I truly was, and yet that this "I" also existed fairly and equally to the "real" I.  There are only remnants of the paralytic depression and self-loathing, but what comes through the most is an operative power - a prowess, a knowing, an invisible manipulator, and an awareness of this power that can only come after the time has been spent.  I'm not saying I've ever been some kind of uber-goddess of sexuality and allure, but most young girls, with or without being aware of it, are to at least some extent, and this notion is played up and perpetuated by poetic, literary, and cultural archetypes.

Hoooooly shit, what am I talking about....oh!  Youth!  Morning!
K, moving on.
Anyhow, I feel like these poems were written right as I was at the cusp of entering into yet another more actualized phase of adulthood, or at least of something that isn't adolescence, and that I had to write them to get me there.  I had to leave bits of youth behind, and if I had to idealize some of those bits then so be it.  The poems are honest in their way, and in their belated perceptions and awarenesses, and that's all I could have hoped for in constructing them.  I'm not saying they're "good."  But I learned a lot from writing them, and I'm both comforted and frightened by their honesty.

Really, the meat of what I wanted to talk about, is that I feel like I've yet again hit another towering gorge of adult-ness, and have left some fragments of youth behind.  As mentioned before, I'm seeing it now because of summer hitting in Boise, and summer being the time when I first moved here.  Summer is how I first saw Boise, 3 years ago, and how I first lived Boise.  I moved here utterly on impulse and initially lived on the couch in a straight-edge friend's studio apartment.  He also got me a job at Journey's at the mall, which surprisingly ended up becoming a little bit of a family for a time.  I remember when my friend, Alisha (supposedly it was her) left the AC on for too long and it busted, so we spent some days selling Converse, DCs, and Toms shimmering in sweat.
I rode my bike everywhere, and hung out downtown, meeting new people and going on mini-adventures before the weight of Fall and the weight of class loads really hit (they hit hard, as I was bound and determined to kick as much academic ass as possible).  I went to shows at "Grandma's House," and the "208 House," even though I would be totally confused on how to get to each of them for a long time yet.  
I met a boy and let him in, and those were their own experiences.  I sort of moved in with him for a time in Nampa, Idaho into a house that had its very own purple beer pong table personalized with homemade "Bud Light" stencils (maybe it was "Budweiser" or something else...)
Later, I'd meet other boys, and those were also their own experiences.  I became familiar with Boise and Nampa in their own contexts, each remaining kitschy their own ways for a good amount of time (I officially no longer see either as kitschy).


So three years have passed here in Idaho, and not only with the incoming summer, but with the fact that my time in Boise is almost over, I am reflecting a great deal on these past three years.  I am seeing how different, and how the same I am, from when I first moved here.

It's interesting - words weigh so heavily.... youth.... Youth Lagoon.  I never really listened to Youth Lagoon (though I knew they were gaining status) until this past year, and I realized I mostly wanted to listen to them because of their name.  I was hoping for an actual lagoon of youth, and that is what I got.  Listening to the album, "The Year of Hibernation" again and again and again has really been cementing these reflections, and I fully believe music or books come to you, or you come to them, at appropriate times.
It's strange and beautiful how things fall into place, and I'm happy to be who I am, adult or not, youth or not, but containing the multitudes within for each, that may be continuously changing.  I'm grateful for Boise, grateful for writing, grateful for experience, and so grateful for my own tendency to now cherish, at least most mornings.  I'm grateful for all of the times when I have, and haven't had, figurative balls.  I'm grateful for those I've loved and who have loved me back.  I'm grateful for all of the poems, that have failed, succeeded, and even those who have died a stillbirth.  I'm grateful for the changes, and for the stagnations.  It's 11:53am.  And I am grateful.

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