it seems like every time i write something in this space, i begin with some sentiment of “it’s been awhile.” surprise surpise, this is no different. in true fashion, i’m still not sure what i want this space to be. i used to spend a lot of time here back when i first decided i wanted to be a writer, back when my head was full of enough ideas to keep me energized, when paying for my very own space on the internet with old birthday money felt grown-up and monumental. i was a kid with scattered dreams, eager to start living them.
being young was fun-- driving hours on end just to see a show, carrying around a sony cybershot to photograph my friends, staying up late to write silly stories, wondering who i’d grow up to be. but it never quite felt cool. if it was, no one told me. and if they did, i didn’t listen. i just wanted to be doing something already, anything that felt like it mattered. once i got old enough, i did. i applied for a summer job i wasn’t qualified for; i even said so in my interview. by some miracle, i got the job, and by another miracle i was actually good at it. that first summer in nashville felt too good to be true; it was like someone threw some seeds in my yard and everything started coming up roses. i severed ties with a year from hell to live in a world i’d only watched from afar, and i was able to fit somewhere inside of it. i grew into a name that demanded attention, i shook hands with assurance and walked into rooms armed with all these things i didn’t know and a determination i was proud of.
that summer was important for me, and i wanted to ride the momentum of its wave for as long as i could. i went back to nashville as much as was feasible for living a few states away. i wrote a lot then too-- mostly for fun, plus an artist interview here and there. i tried to leave my youth with grace, naively assuming i’d never want it back. i saved money, did my best to grow, and trekked back to tennessee less than a year later. it was nothing like i remembered. i drove around to kill time, drank enough coffee to never not be anxious, and was really just sad most of the time-- too sad to remember to have any ambition.
enter the inevitable: poems. a lot of them. i thought they were shit until someone told me they weren’t, and then i made a book of them. that’s the short version of the story, anyway. i felt alive again, doing something important to me. it was so all-consuming i forgot i’d ever wanted anything else. that feeling faded, as all feelings do, and i was left with the question that always seems to plague me: what do i want now? i grew up in a small pool where i didn’t have to know much of anything, much less what exactly i wanted because everything was given. it was perfectly nice, cozy and safe, but it wasn’t enough. i left for somewhere bigger and new and without even realizing it, i started to feel like i had to know everything, and like i was good at nothing much. i often still feel that way.
but there are times i wonder if we’re better off for what we don’t know. really, i think about it a lot. almost anyone whose deams have come true must’ve been naive enough to dream them at all. this is the part where i let go of reality for a minute and ask beg for my youth back. i want to dream it all over again, ask more questions than my ego usually allows, and take a billion more chances with sure belief in my capability. i know it wasn’t simpler then, but my memory likes to tell me it was.
i’ve just spent a good portion of the afternoon sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop in brooklyn, dreaming about days i’ve already lived. i’m 24 and hard on myself and forgetting i worked hard to be here, in new york (more on that later, god willing). i also worked hard to find the patience to write the first sort-of essay i’ve been able to get out in more than a year. and i did have dreams, i did take some chances, i was naive enough to do so. i guess this is the hard part: dreaming with all i know now.
the days might be gone where i drove hours to see a show for the thrill of it, but i still know the words to all those songs. and today, that’s enough.
WWLT: historian - lucy dacus