seven years later (from amarillo to l.a.)

This morning, driving to work, I was listening to Joy Division. “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. I bought “Permanent” a week before I moved to Texas. And that was seven years ago yesterday.

I’m trying to think about the similarities between who I was then, and who I am now, rather than the differences. I have, for years, thought about the segments of my life in terms of how much I’ve changed, rather than how much I’ve stayed the same. It’s made my memories and my self-image disjointed, and allowed me to keep patterns without recognizing them. I don’t think that’s the best way to look at myself. While I never want to forget how much I’ve changed or grown up, I don’t want to feel like my life has been lived by a succession of different Jillians. It makes it too difficult to see myself clearly, when I keep trying to reinvent myself (bad habit). It makes me Los Angeles, in human form. Maybe that’s why I love this city so much.

I think, do I even know who I was, seven years ago? My self-image was a kaleidescope in itself, constantly shifting. I was pushing to be twenty-five, not twenty, and trying to live my life accordingly. I wanted to be a grownup because I’d been so miserable as a teenager. I suppose I thought, if I could get the career and the car, my own apartment and clothing store charge cards, if I could live that kind of independent, sophisticated lifestyle I imagined adults in their twenties had, then I would be free of everything that I hated about being eighteen, nineteen, twenty. I wanted to be thirty before I was old enough to drink.

Now, my thirtieth birthday is less than three years away, and I don’t feel much older than the girl who found herself in Amarillo, Texas, listening to Joy Division, seven years ago. And really, what’s different? I’m at a similar career level (but more stable and better equipped to handle it). I have my own apartment (with roomates). I still have the same car. I still have the same face, and look remarkably like I did at twenty. I still love Depeche Mode and idolize Siouxsie Sioux and consider Kiss Them For Me my own theme song. I still love history and literature.

It’s always been easy for me to stand and say to myself, this is what has changed. It’s harder to think about what’s still the same. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, or if more people my age feel like they’re recreating themselves constantly, a culture of physical and mental nomads. Maybe it’s just me. But counting seven years from one of the major milestones of my twenties is a good catalyst for a bit of introspection.

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