Well screw that! Seriously, how am I supposed to understand where I am if I don't know where I'm going. Sure, I could give you facts. Height, weight, eye color, hair color, my tendancy to chew up popsicle sticks and spit them into garbage cans disdainfully, like an angry baseball manager expelling chewing tobacco. I could talk about my net worth, the percentage of my underpants that have skidmarks, the fact that almost all my socks have holes in them. I could recount my age, down to the minute, the fact that one of my nipples was inverted until I was 20 but no longer is, for undisclosed reasons. The average number of strokes it takes for me to achieve climax. With hand-lotion or without? With pornographic accompaniment or not? How many hours since the last bout?
My GPA, 3.8551 at the moment. (the school has extended GPA to the fourth decimal place, an absurd decision without rational justification. How many schools are going to pick a candidate with a 3.7452 over one with a 3.7458. If you can't find some other basis on which to judge them then you aren't looking.) My honors: Golden Key society. Phi Beta Kappa. Magna Cum Laude (probably.) Dean's list every semester (I hope.)
My love life. Non-existant. Libido on the low side of normal, probably less than two standard deviations below the mean. Sexuality: Hetero. My awkwardness around women, profound. My concern with this situationm, variable.
None of this means anything without context. It depends on what I want from life and what I'm capable of. If my goal is to become a lawyer then I'm doing alright. High GPA. An internship. I'm sure I could get good recomendations from people. No outstanding warrents.
If my goal is to get married and start a family then I'm pretty much shit out of luck.
If my goal is to move out on my own, well, things are complicated then.
If my goal is to become a writer/film-maker then I'm fucked because I have no talent.
If my goal is to know myself then I have a long way to go.
Context is everything. There's this woman who's been emailing me. We met in summer camp when I was 16 and a C.I.T. I was thinner then, significantly. She had her friend pass me a note saying that she wanted to go out with me. Out was a misnomer, we weren't allowed to leave camp grounds unsupervised. I said yes. She was big and ungainly, but one of the things you learn by not being pretty is that pretty isn't everything. You see those girls with the primped hair and unsubtle cleavage and you think that you could make them happier than their boyfriends could if you were given half a chance. So you can't not give someone half a chance. That's hypocritical. That's immoral.
That wasn't the whole story of course. There was one of those primped and pretty girls around who I might have had a shot with had she not been slutty and insecure and untrustworthy. I wanted to make her jealous. I didn't want to admit this. It worked.
I met the ungainly girl on a path with trees near it. We sat down on a bench and talked. The moon was full and there was a breeze drifting by, filled with the scents of grass clippings and possibility. She was nice, she had a deep but pretty voice. She smoked, and I hated that. She said interesting things.
I wanted to make a move. I told her that her hair was very pretty, in an ornate way that I thought might pass for romantic. It didn't smell of smoke. She told me that she dyed it. Already tense from the threat of the unknown I was rendered impotent. The date was aborted, just like that. Like a bombing run on a foggy night or a child concieved when the parents are both headed to different colleges. I never dated again. A week later the pretty girl would sit down next to me and put her thigh on top of mine. I wasn't sure what it meant at the time. She poured glitter on me and climbed all over me. I thought about the smoker with the dyed hair and did nothing. She called me twice after camp. I don't know what she's doing these days.
The other girl sent me perfumed letters after camp. I sent letters back. She wanted to meet with me in the winter but I had gained weight and was ashamed. Our exchange of letters petered out. A few months ago she emailed me and we've exchanged about a dozen since then. She's a singer now, Opera. Maybe she was back then as well. She'll be graduating in June from her program. She knows six languages. She sings in professional operas, well enough to be awarded money prizes. She is the future of her art.
A million little vignettes like that build into a life. At some point the characters stabilize and the vignettes start to look similar. This we call aging. I don't think it's happened to me yet.
Take stock of my life. Tell you what's in the inventory room behind my storefront, what I've got in reserve, what I've accumulated as a person. Make up a check list and mark off what's been done and what has yet to be accomplished. Show you a mall map of my life and stick on a little red arrow saying "I am here. The food court is up the stairs and to the left. Death is 5 10 15 20 50 years away. There are no memories of sex, that storefront has yet to be occupied."
Where's Waldo, existentially? Is he really hiding among the clowns 3 inches diagonally from the bottom left corner of the page? Is he 2/3ds done with his living? Is he in the middle of a savage divorce? Has he made 98% of the money he ever will as an intellectual property? Is he 3 years from the expiration of his copyright (the answer to the last is no, thanks to the Sony Bono act.)
Where am I?
I am almost 200% as old as I was when my dad killed himself, and likely heavier by a similar factor.
I am mostly done with my formal education and barely started on my informal.
I am still at the crossroads when it comes to career. Afraid to step down one path or the other.
I am past my expiration date sexually, at a point where competence and experience are expected and I have neither.
I am insecure and arrogant, mature and babyish, dazed and confused.
Take stock? How? How do you measure where you are when you don't know where you're going? How do you measure what you have when you aren't sure what to do with it?
I am college graduate, watch me whine. I am liberal, dedicated to love and understanding of all human beings regardless of their pasts or beliefs. Watch me hate.
I am stone watch me sink. I am gossamer watch me soar.
Sometimes measurement doesn't make sense.