When I was 14 years old, I believed that I was going to marry Keanu Reeves. I’d move to Hollywood to become an actress, and we would meet on set, fall in love and spend eternity together. I could spend hours just lying around daydreaming about our first flirtations and kisses. And I swear, the dream was every bit as good as reality could be. At least based on my view of relationships from where I sit now… in a world that’s drowning in the illusions created by dating apps and social media.
Maybe it’s the simplicity of adolescence I miss. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the 90s. But I’m eternally grateful that I was a teenager in a world where Instagram didn’t exist. My friends and I could get lost in the days hanging out at the park together. Listening to Green Day and talking about everything under the sun. There was no need to work to be in the moment because we were always in it. Sure, we thought about our future but didn’t really believe it would come. No teenager ever believes they will one day be middle-aged and the music they love will come on a classic rock station. And yet here I am, quickly approaching this era. This new chapter in my life that I never intended to write… especially not without the support of Keanu by my side!
In some ways, I am an adult. I have worked my way up in the world, taken what I’ve learned from my bosses and mentors and started a company of my own, paid the dues to make it successful. And in other ways, I have the life of a much younger person… no parental responsibility, no spouse to compromise with… and the most vibrant cities in the world available as my playground. It’s a confusing place to be in. To see the women I grew up with with children in school reflecting so much of their own mothers now. And I look in the mirror and see that I do too. I look more like my mother as I age. Not just in my cheekbones and eyes. I feel the weight of the world that she felt. I see it in a way that only someone who’s collected a lot of memories can see it.
I am not sad that I chose a life without children. I can honestly say it was never part of my fantasy. But when I dreamed of traveling the world, I did believe there would be someone with me. People couple up. It’s what they do. Or maybe it’s what they did…
A part of me thinks all of us have become more selfish and entitled now, unable to compromise with others… a part of me thinks the internet has turned almost everyone into a narcissist. And a part of me thinks that even right now as I am writing this I sound as old and grumpy as my grandfather once did. A permanent frown on his face. Sometimes I feel it set on mine too, and I smile just for the sake of remembering to use those muscles.
It’s not really sadness, just solitude. Perhaps a bit of apathy. When you spend a lot of time alone, you really do forget facial expressions.
Last night I walked across Chinatown in Bangkok through streets filled with garbage, stray cats, and shanty markets. One of only a few westerners. The only western woman alone in sight. For years this type of realization made me feel fiercely proud and independent. But now I just want to finish my work and go on. The traveling is all very tiring after a while.
My friends in Chiang Mai and Lisbon talk a lot about gratitude and self-awareness. The new age of consciousness sweeping over us. I respect it. Mediations, healing circles, connecting with others and nature. Self-love. I see the value in it, but i also see it as just another means for identification with a group. A way to feed the ego with the undeniable goodness of mindfulness.
Calm down now, Eeyore.
Negativity is such an easy, comfortable state.
I’m starting to spend more nights alone with my ukulele. Counting beats and playing songs that remind me of my childhood. Confusing all of my memories. Making time feel like an endless loop. And finding lightness in the possibility that it doesn’t even exist.
For what it’s worth, I’m not a total pessimist… I still haven’t given up on a nice retirement with Keanu.
This post was originally published in 2019 on amandainasia.com