• Kerry Chambers

'Life Moves Pretty Fast...': A Birthday Thought

I don’t feel old. I’m not, I really am not in the scheme of it, but damn do I feel something. I say it a lot, too, but it’s not the right word. Weathered? Weary? Tethered? Unforgiving skin will eventually sag, yet there’s even less room to move about in it; the path is narrow and overgrown, and what once was tended was neglected by me, I kneeled to tie my shoe and when I stood up I could not see the path ahead of me, naively believed it would always be clear. That clarity with age is another myth amongst the masses.

'I don’t know, but I think very badly of myself. Even as I say that, in a corner of my heart something stubborn that trusts in itself, that says there is one good thing in me somewhere, darkly and firmly coils its roots. More and more, I don’t understand...' - extract from Chiyojo by Osamu Dazai

Happy Birthday to me; It’s my birthday eve, and I’m aware that I have failed to deliver on anything with this blog. I’ve been busy. I’ve been working begrudgingly, reading a lot, unfortunately struggling to work through my watch list (plenty to write about and no energy to see them) trying to edit this second draft of my novel which I am a third of the way through. Excuses? Sort of. I want to watch more – the Arrow sale was raided for goodness sake - I want more variety, I want to get off that YouTube void. I suppose the best way to describe it is simply surviving.


I’ve not really thought about my birthday. This for anyone who knows me is wildly out of character. This time of year I am unashamedly gleeful at my birthday, relishing in gifts and indulgences and a day all about me; think Richard Richard and his stacks of self-penned birthday cards. I’m the same at Christmas. I love events, I love getting people gifts and relishing in that kind of celebration.

Tatami Galaxy (Yuasa, 2010)

Mostly, this year, I haven’t had time to think. Maybe I should take it as a big warning sign; I have been in cruise control, stepping back to get through each day. Makes sense that I have blitzed some more romantic, fantastical fiction; of the limited films chosen only the most magical (Leslie Cheung as a debt collector is somehow the peak of art and romance, I be swooning). Reality is hard and I need some kind of release. Something so detached from reality.


'It's like God gave you something man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, "this is what we got for ya kid, try not to lose it." Kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them.' - Stand By Me, Rob Reiner (1985)

I feel odd. Not quite empty, a vessel of kind-of’s, almosts, a near empty jar of marbles rattling around the bottom, each now precious. It’s all I have left to give, after that I cannot fill it, no resources, no experiences to stuff it to brim and any value of what is left is delusional.


Twenties are a ridiculous age. I’ve read enough; respect enough poets to know that. It’s a joke, a total lie that is offered to us by all the loudest few; that it’s good to be young. Maybe it is in hindsight, but in the thick of it, age is already reminding me of what I regret, missed out on, wisdom reminding me that I have to make the most of time I have now. The child in me screams something else: Unfair.

'Ground continually trampled on gets hard; people get to be somebody by being buffeted and banged around.' - extract from For All My Walking by Taneda Santōka,

It was sold to me that it would get better. Twenties and thirties, they’re messy for some and coming together for others. Life is a foolish game, I reject that I should need to play by any of its rules but cannot bear the blindness that comes with no guidance.


Three weddings in one year, friend with babies and houses and incomes and lives yet I determined to live a life separated from reality. Assumed that more would find me one day, when I was ready. I want to live in fiction yet I’m scared of what I say or pen, that it won’t be good enough or won’t be true enough, or so true that it will show me for the child I still am. Then the regrets follow, then the child screams and demands to go back to fourteen years old.

Cowboy Bebop (Watanabe, 1998)

Reading late into the night and avoiding homework as she annihilated film after film and memorized dates and directors and actors; it was all I was good at. Writing crappy stories, re-watching TV shows until I knew everything Mulder conspiricised with Scully, every fight between Sam and Dean, every turn of phrase between the Pythons. It was all I knew. There was rejection, then beating the rejection to it. Making friends, and thriving in school, in subjects that equally relished in my interest until finally escaping home. Then becoming an adult and finding no use in all I knew.


I’m trying to find a use. Something that still feels authentic to me. But life wields a baseball bat, and I’m too cowardly to carry a few broken bones and bruises.


"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, John Hughes (1986)

Mad to believe I was raised on Disney and eighties movies… they’re all about being braver, crawling up and holding onto your young spirit, facing adulthood with that spark forever. They warned me and still ring so bloody true yet I can’t heed any of the advice. Why am I so bad at listening to it? Maybe because I’m impatient… also very rich from someone who has sat around and avoided a whole lot of stuff for a whole lot of years.


What’s my goal before my next birthday? It’s the question that makes me dread them more and more, one I have half-answers and hazy dreams about. I was happiest when I reveled in my semi-delusions, and I’m trying to hope a little bigger. I’ve allowed myself to wish for less and less as it felt less likely until all I had left was passing each unsatisfying day with nothing more. But it was never unreasonable to dream, none of them were. I just lost bits of me, beneath the weight of things.


I have plans. But I don’t want to voice them. Perhaps it unhealthy to believe in jinxes. But to voice it makes it real and terrifying and I can no longer breathe, smothered and choking. One day I will say it, manifest something. Optimism is either insincere or foolish, unfashionable most of the time. But everyone has hope, no matter what they say. Hope is devious, a root too deep to pluck but flowering something worthy of the wait. I have to wait, and work and believe in the hope, and see the world around me and find the good amongst the shit. There’s so much of it.

Bungou Stray Dogs (2016)

I’m getting older. Things are getting clearer, and I need to believe that my jar can filled. Maybe it won’t be with marbles; maybe it will sit empty for a while longer, or suddenly overflow with perishables, moreish forgettables. But one day it will have something in it. Time is going to fill me up. Life has more to offer than I believe. It’s going to be… okay?



 

I had to indulge in a little sentimental reflection. It's on a bi-monthly rota it seems. I've got some film blog ideas in the works, I just need to wrap up some filmographies to work on them. But there's something. And all will be filmic soon.

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