I spent most of my free time in high school making movies. You’re imagining shaky, grain-laden home movies with two actors playing seven characters and little to no plot, but it was more than that. Me and my friends were lucky enough to have access to good equipment and basic film education through school, and we cashed in on both. There’s a stack of DVDs in the drawer of the desk where I’m sitting to prove it.
Tonight I’m celebrating a small milestone as we tumble into the 2nd month of the year. Over the past 31 days I’ve succeeded in establishing a writing routine. It’s not perfect—not by a long shot, with many rushed entries and nights staying up too late to finish—but it’s something. To date I’ve written essays exclusively. The format comes naturally to me, and I enjoy ruminating on past memories. Going forward I want to mix in some fiction and longer essays. I may write less in my daily entries in order to put more time into substantial pieces.
In the house where I grew up I had the front bedroom, my sister the back; she looked out to the backyard, I to the front. The house itself was set on a hill, and the yard sloped down toward the street. My child’s imagination spurred on the sense of being high in a tower, surveying the land. The yard was largely grass with one lone oak—a thick one, standing near to 80 feet tall—that scattered shade over much of the grass below it. On the perimeter of the yard stood more trees, and an entire forest beyond. In the warm New England summers this yard saw, over the years, heated games of soccer and badminton, baseball catches with Dad, manic games of capture the flag with the full band of cousins, and laps around the lawn with the mower, my weekly chore.
Montreal, with its brutal winters and expansive underground infrastructure, is where I lived in the winter and spring of 2009, during the second semester of my junior year of undergrad. One of my fondest memories of the city is, oddly, riding public transportation. Even after six years away, I often dream of hearing “Prochaine station: Berri-UQAM” as the San Francisco trains approach a stop. Perhaps my affection persists due in part to Montreal being the first place I lived that had public transportation, by which I mean reliable, expansive public transportation.
If you’ve been following along, you may have noticed my praise for Gloria Steinem’s book My Life on the Road; *I blazed through it last week and haven’t yet stopped reflecting on certain passages. Furthermore, if you were to have spent any serious amount of time with me in the past six months, there’s a strong likelihood that I’d have given you an earful about David Foster Wallace and *Infinite Jest (humans in their 20s reading and raving about Infinite Jest is practically becoming a stereotype in its own right, but the thing is that the hype is justified, the man had a remarkable sense of foresight).