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Twelve fucking years ago, I wrote some nonsense here about giving up driving--nevermind that the way I reached the decision was muddled like leaves of mint in a julep. Made me think, though.

I was 24, then. Feels like a lifetime ago, and for good reason; it was at least one lifetime ago.

My life can be easily separated into three chunks of twelve years.

Thinking back on the last chunk, there's a certain swelling of pride. You're just 36, they'll say. You're not nearly old enough--you're still a pup! This sort of reflection shouldn't happen until you're staring retirement in the face and neglected to do anything useful with your preceding 60 years.

Well.

The person I was twelve years ago would be a stranger to me now, and with, I think, good reason. He wasn't a bad guy, not some villain. He wasn't possessing of any particularly egregious moral faults. He cared about different things, though, that's for sure.

Being perceived outwardly as he felt inwardly was very important to him. He envied people of intelligence and wit, and receiving praise from those sorts would stir his coffee across many cold nights. He wanted to be seen as one of them, a mind full grown and as limber a sponge as ever. He wanted to find and be associated with the Athens of America, as though membership would suddenly give him access to those raised echelons of class and erudition that have become increasingly silent in our modern lives; people in their metaphorical top hats, clinking crystal glasses of single malt.

He didn't much care for being alone. Being left alone with his thoughts caused the sort of ennui-fueled thought spirals escape from which was only possible through egregious application of liquor, lies, and lust, often in that order.

I mean, I'm married now, for crying out loud. Such a conclusion would've been unthinkable back then, and not only because of questionable legal status.

He cared a lot for money. He got into the software engineering business at the right time, had the right skill set, had the right charisma, to get basically any job he wanted; chased ever larger and larger paychecks to fill the various voids that working all the time was creating. Thrived on stress, thrived on deadlines, thrived on being the one brought in to conceptualize now to solve other peoples' problems, the field was perfect.

I don't wish to say it ate me up inside, as that sort of implies there was some sort of invader, some malicious presence. I wasn't eaten up, I was rotting in the sun.

Took a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of naval-gazing to get my life back in order. From the outside, everything already looked in order.

I mostly narrate audiobooks for the blind, these days. A life relatively free from stress, though also free from the luxuries afforded the engineer. I enjoy what I have, I cook a lot of meals at home for friends and family; the happiness of others rubs off on me, and it is my most profound hope that my own does the same. It's a lot easier to make people smile when their bellies are full.

I still don't drive, though, so there is that; and I still wear the same size jeans. And I'm glad E2 is still here.