Atta Ikede

September 1, 2009

10 years later

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:10 pm

PB emailed me when I got back to SF. Did I have any reflections after my visit home? Were there any surprises?

Well, seeing my family was pretty nice. They’ve been making various upgrades to the house, which meant I got to enjoy their new patio, my mom’s bamboo mural upstairs and get ferried about in their new cars. Hehe. In fact, my mom recently had some kind of kitchen countertop incident so I think they’re going to upgrade that as well.  I guess do video chats with them every couple weekends, so it’s not like we had a ton to catch up on. It was more like we picked up where we left off.

Seeing my friends was nice too. With only 5 days to really spend with people, I only managed to see a few close friends and do a few key things I’d really wanted to do, but I got to spend a lot of time with everybody I did see.

I am happy to say I have lots of new little memories to treasure. Driving around in my brother’s LED enhanced vehicle, the cucumber in my mom’s garden, having a beer with my dad, getting ice cream with Anna, Claire’s squeal when I finally knocked on her door, my picnic with PB,  our little reunion on Sylvia’s patio, crepes at Cafe Crepe, the birthday party, doing errands with Mr. Wong, the ridiculously complicated conversation with David Tung on a too-hot day, fashion advice from Julie, … … sigh. The list just goes on and on. Overall, it really was the perfect trip home.

The one thing I will remember most of all though, is something so totally mundane that I can hardly believe it sticks out in my mind like this. You know what it is? It’s the feeling of me driving alone on the 401.

Honestly, one second, I was feeling normal. Singing along to the radio, overtaking some slowpokes, looking forward to the Apricot Tree Cafe, etc., but then slowly, somewhere between the McDonalds and Milton, I started getting this feeling like oh my god, this was part of my life. I used to do this daily.  In fact, the last 18 months were the first time since I started university that I haven’t done that drive. That’s when I started feeling emotional. I remembered my little Corolla. Changing lanes in the winter, gripping the steering wheel. I remembered how during work terms at Sunnybrook and HGC, I’d listen to distance ed courses on the way to work. I’d keep the book of lecture tapes open on the passenger seat next to me and fumble around to change cassettes. Remembering those things, I cried a little.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I was the youngest engineering frosh in Waterloo. Leaving aside some of the near-disastrous school terms that followed, I guess I survived, turned out well, and managed to come up with a decent career and social life. I also got to travel a bit, learn a few new things, save some money, and move out here. Not bad.

Remembering all of that, I also cried a little about the person I am now. I used to be really hard working. I used to really care about things. I used to get really excited about stuff, and be knowledgeable about stuff. Yeah, I was a bundle of wildly fluctuating tensions and anxieties, alternatively procrastinating and wildly productive. But I got things done, and I did them pretty well. I used to have dreams, plans, schemes. Who was that girl who learned all of 2A calculus in 2 weeks? Who went to school on Sunday afternoons to keep up with Thermo homework and ended up ranked 3rd in that class? Who used to go in with Ryan and work on fixing up data on Sundays? Who had crazy discussions w/ Juan and Eric until 11 pm and came home so exhausted I couldn’t think? Who told my dad I’m going to move to Australia and be a waitress?

I don’t know what happened during the past 2 or 3 years, but I think somehow, slowly, all the observations about people at work who don’t pull their weight, who just clock in and clock out and still are everybody’s golden boy, who have bad character and get away with it … I don’t know. I think it somehow affected me because I’m not the same worker I was before. And I don’t mean just at work. That attitude has gone into my whole life. A friend of mine called me on Sunday. I haven’t returned her call. I don’t have any plans for the future. I don’t have any goals. I don’t know what I’m good at.

I realized, I hate this. I hate this new me. I think if my 17 year old self could see me, she’d be really happy about a lot of the way things worked out, especially with the whole california move and the lovely life I had in Toronto. But I think that in a way, she’d be a bit disappointed with the actual person I turned out to be.

There’s a standard corny movie theme about how you wake up to be 30 and full of regrets, so you go back in time and fix yourself. The thing is, now that I’m thinking about this and wondering how I feel about it, I don’t feel regret. I feel like every big decision I made was a good one. It’s the hundreds of little shortcuts I took that added up to this self-erosion. And the worst part is that even now, as I’m thinking about it, I’m too lazy to improve myself. I literally just had this thought: “Things are going fine. Why change?”.

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