I can't shake a story I heard on NPR's "All Things Considered" last week by one of my favorite reporters, Robert Krulwich (his stories are always fascinating). It isn't the first time someone has asked the question, "Why Does Time Fly By As You Get Older?" but it is one of the best explanations I've heard. Everything is new when you're young. When you're older, it isn't. There are a few other theories in the story, but the bottom line is that it's true. I left Charleston more than a month ago, I've been living and working in Austin for over a month - and that month has gone by like a DAY.
Sort of. There have been wonderful moments, wheeling a cart through a grocery store or eating lunch at a great Tex Mex place downtown (Guero's last week - yum), when it has occurred to me that I will not run into a single person I know. I don't have to be on guard all the time. I can turn the bitch alert off and not even worry about it. I'm not talking about the wonderful friends and family and other people I miss in Charleston. I'm talking about the "didn't you used to be Kelly Love Johnson" gossipy bitches, the "hey can I pick your brain over lunch" mooches, the "bless your heart, are you ill?" fake people (I've been asked that question when I went out without makeup in Charleston). There is an amazing freedom in being in a city where no-one knows you, where you can leave the house wearing tights, boots, a ripped Depeche Mode t-shirt, sunglasses, and hair like a rat's nest and no one will look at you twice. Or even once. There's no-one here to ask me why I'm no longer writing for/working for the magazine I used to work for. I can be whoever I want to be - who I really am, once I find out who that is.
But I've also been working, so time has flown by. I even began to wonder why my days seemed so short, why I was tired so early (only an hour time difference, folks), and even while writing this, wondering why I haven't been able to write a damn word in my own voice. Until now.
Last year was hard, for me and many people I know for a variety of reasons. The economy, layoffs, the unemployment rate in South Carolina. For me, 2009 will always be "the bad year" when I lost my SELF. I forgot who I was. I stopped believing in myself. I lost faith in humanity, in people I once cared about, and in me. I was my own worst enemy - and a dangerous one. I had to pick up and move to another city halfway across the country to get enough perspective to realize how bad things were. Mostly because I'm really good at pretending things are OK when they're not.
Last year, because it was full of "novelty" for me, so to speak - I've never experienced some of the emotions, the personal crises, and the joylessness that I felt then - made my days, weeks, and months feel like a fucking eternity. I was so focused on survival that I stopped having fun. Time did not fly in 2009.
But it is now. Which means I have perspective. It also means that I'm back. Oh, and I'm old.