I'm Becoming the Elder
Papi, sometimes the past feels like a burden
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I find myself alone today with my pets in a quiet space. My children are off to school. My partner is visiting their father. And yet, there is no rest. Yesterday was my 36th birthday. My kids are finally of age to understand the importance of it, and I did feel celebrated. I got a text from a dear high school friend, and from my eldest child's grandmother in Florida. The people that matter. I played myself an mp3 of my grandmother's voice singing happy birthday to me the year before she died, 11 years ago. My kids were able to hear and say, wow, she really did have a heavy Spanish accent! I thought of my father who would have been 64 a week before my own birthday.
It's hard to frame this into a question so I'm kinda feeling it out as I write so bear with me if you can! I guess what I'm saying is: Where do you find peace in a world where the majority of your loved ones have passed? They are with me always but have left a space in my heart. I give all of my goodness to my children and to my art. My grandma would be so proud. Her obituary said "Everything she did, she did for her children," and I strive to be the same.
I am grasping at the idea that I am now the elder. The rest have passed and I have to carry the photos. The astrological placements of ancestors born 100 years ago. The traditions. Show the importance of where our family came from. ¡Jalisco! The burden feels so heavy. It’s exhausting!
Any advice on how to cope?
Becoming the Elder
Hey there, BTE!
It sounds like you’re trying to make peace with the unstoppable marching of time that is slowly guiding us all toward inevitable death. It’s moments like these that remind me of this column’s humble origins in Grindr, a gay hookup app. My goodness, how far ¡Hola Papi! has come. I went from answering letters like “I saw my manager on Grindr” to fielding easy questions like these! Some things do better with age.
In any case, I understand your ennui, BTE. Thoughts like the ones you describe weigh on me from time to time as well. I’m definitely a person who dwells, ponders, and ruminates, perhaps more than I should. There are times in life, gaps, when things go still, and quiet sets in, and we become reflective. We become keenly aware that we are thinking, feeling beings caught in the merciless current of physics. It’s a miracle we make it to these brief islands of contemplation at all, fragile as we are.
As we catch our breath here outside the flow state, we will sometimes look back in astonishment at all we have survived, at the wounds we’ve accumulated while being dragged along, at what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained, and we might wonder what it’s all for, might begin a process of anxious arithmetic hoping to arrive at some meaningful answer: I want more. I need less. I want, I hope, I love, I hate.