I have had a weird week of emotions. It hasn’t felt as if I am living in the present. It started last week when I saw the documentary, Life Itself, about Roger Ebert. I grew up watching At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert with my dad and sister. As an adult living in Chicago, I would see Roger Ebert on the streets of Chicago or rang up his purchases at a store I worked at during a holiday season. I thought he was a terrific writer so I commented every now and then on his blog posts. I was in the Chicago area at the time of his public memorial service. I briefly contemplated attending but I had to get to Indianapolis. I think I cried off and on throughout the movie for the memories it stirred up of childhood and some of my favorite Chicago places, such as O’Rourkes. Seeing glimpses of a former building on the Northwestern Memorial campus stirred up less pleasant memories. It made me miss my dad but some of my favorite Chicagoans such as Gene Siskel, Studs Terkel, and Roger.
A few days later, I landed in Seattle for a conference. It was a different conference for me in the respect that my usual conference pals weren’t attending. With the additional free time for myself, I went to see the movie, Boyhood, on the first night. Following the same characters over a period of years, the director shows moments from their lives as they go through childhood and enter college. There is a line somewhere in the movie about how life is made up of moments. While that is an obvious statement it didn’t leave my thoughts for the week. The week in Seattle kept bringing back memories of different moments of my life.
An ex of mine was at the conference. We had some time to catch up on the first day. An odd thing about us is that I really don’t remember that much of our time together even though we were together for three and a half years and lived together for at least two of them. What I remembered was the last time I stayed at the hotel was right after I returned from a trip where I hooked up with Mary. I had to go to the University of Washington for a meeting with several colleagues. I spent most of the drive and stay in the hotel secretly texting with Mary. Things ended with Jane within a few weeks of that hotel stay. Another person at the conference was someone I had not seen since 2000. She was the head of reference at a branch library where I worked full-time during library school. While I was at the main campus, I worked closely with her and her staff. As my situation deteriorated at this library and I had to leave when I filed a discrimination suit, this librarian stood behind me. Her and a few others provided references as I searched for my first professional position. They knew I had been treated poorly by library administration. They shared in my celebration when I won my suit. To see her fourteen years later as I am now in a position that I would have never expected in those bad days was something we both acknowledged and celebrated during different moments of the conference. I spent some time with a former colleague during my very early days at the University of Oregon.
I went off one afternoon to my favorite Seattle bookstore. It stirred up memories of trips to Seattle with L. The whole time walking around the city made me nostalgic for the PNW in a way that my trips to Portland had not. Finally, I spent yesterday with a friend who I also met during those early Oregon days. Between these moments of memories of early Oregon days, time with L, or my time in Chicago, I had a hard time finding who I am in this present moment. It also didn’t help that attending this conference reminded me of my early days in the profession when I attended conferences without knowing many people, attending the majority of sessions, and still learning new things.
Despite all of these moments of looking back at things, I felt comfort knowing I am in the right place. I really like my job. I like where I live. I am relieved not to be in a relationship. I have great people in my life. And, I am figuring out things. I am definitely more settled and more at peace with things than who I was in 2000, 2002, 2003, or 2012.