Notes from the past

September 1993, found on my dorm room door.

September 1993, found on my dorm room door.

My parents are selling the house. As I wrote before, my parents’ marriage is over. My dad moved into an apartment close to his work several months ago(we just moved the bunkbeds over there) and my mom moved in with her boyfriend last month. My sister was the was last one in the house, and she moved out last weekend to a studio apartment in another city. There had been some talk of renting it out, but in the end it looked like it was going to be too much work and they are preparing it to put up for sale.

I was in Australia as part of the UC exchange program when my parents moved from my childhood home in Davis. I was glad to miss that move, and am even more glad that they weren’t still living there when this all happened. I tend to form strong emotional connection to places and I think it would have been too hard to say goodbye to that house, especially if it had been because my parents were divorcing.

Despite not being my childhood home, I have grown attached to the newer house in Livermore. It was the place my wife first met my family on her way back to Southern California after college. It was the last place my grandparents saw us in the United States. We’ve spent our winter holiday’s there for almost 20 years, and for the kids it has always been their grandparents’ house. Despite the fondness, clearing out of the house hasn’t been as bad as I had imagined. Perhaps that is because it has not been the sanctuary it used to be for several years now. We actually hadn’t gone as a family(with my wife and kids) in over a year, because the comfort and joy that it used to offer disappeared along with my parents’ marriage.

Despite the fact that both my parents have moved out there, this is still a lot of stuff in the house. Oh god do they have a lot of stuff to get rid of! I went by the other weekend to collect some of my remaining possessions (mostly books and the like). I ran across the briefcase that my grandfather gave me as a high school graduation present.It holds even more sentimental value now. Among the Magic eye 3D-eye puzzles that used to run in the Sunday newspaper’s comics pages, and many of which I collected for some reason, and student loan documents inside the briefcaes, I ran across a note that someone had left on my dorm room door my freshman year. I didn’t know I had it, so it was a bit of a surprise.

I actually hadn’t thought of my neighbors, Ari and Michael, in the dorms for some time. I do remember Maryam, she was a high school friend of Ari’s roommate, Michael. Ari and Michael were something else. I guess they knew each other from High School and Synagogue. Ari apparently did not approve of Michael’s partying and started reporting back to his parents who in turn contacted Michael’s parents, and then they started checking in with Michael. Michael obviously did not take this well. For the last couple of months they shared that room, there were sheets hung across the room so they wouldn’t have to see each other. As for Maryam, I remember her as outgoing and assertive. The primary memory I have of her is a voice message she had left for Michael on the answering machine(this was before everyone had cell phones). I was walking by while he was listening to his answering machine and had to stop and listen. I had never heard anyone sound so hoarse and tired. I didn’t recognize the voice as hers, as it sounded so different. I asked if she was sick and Michael said, “No, that’s just her morning voice.” I remembering teasing her about it later.

I don’t actually remember getting the note, but I’m pretty sure of how I responded. I’m fairly certain I spoke with her on the phone and said something to the effect that I didn’t know how to play chess and left it at that. Maybe it’s my imagination, but part of me can hear her disappointment and annoyance. So 21 years ago I totally missed a literal sign that someone was expressing interest in me. It’s hard for me to remember what I was thinking at the time, but the fact that I kept the note says that I found it important. I’m not sure if I took the note literally or if I realized what she was saying and was too scared to take her up on the invite. Either way, I passed up the opportunity.

Regardless as to whether anything might have come of it, I’m struck by how I passed up an invitation to connect and get to know someone. If I had run across this note, say 15 years ago I would have been beating myself up for passing up opportunity to get to know a girl, and added it to my list of romantic failures and all-around-hopelessness when it came to dating in high school and college. At this stage in my life I’m glad to report that it’s not that I’m upset about missing out on the opportunity to get know a girl, it’s just that I passed up an opportunity to connect. Someone took a chance on me, and I totally blew it off. I’m relieved to know that at this stage in my life I am able to recognize it for what it was and if I knew what I know now I would have handled it differently but damn, how many invitations like that I have I turned down in my life either out of fear or ignorance?

More generally, how many invitations has life sent my way that I have totally missed? Relationship-wise, I lucked out and met the woman who eventually became my wife. In other areas though, especially career-wise, I think I still hold back out of fear. My life coach had me see the movie Yes Man last year. The basic premise is that the main character(Jim Carrey) starts saying “Yes” to everything, and as a result, all sorts of wonderful changes occur in his life. Perhaps 2015 will be the year I start saying “Yes”, at the least to messages left on my life’s front door.