Tag Archives: reflection

(fifteen years ago) the speed of time

Time’s a funny thing.

For the first twenty-four years of my life, today’s date was just a date. But fifteen years ago, it became important.

Fifteen years ago, I stood at an altar. For the regular reasons.

(eighteen years ago) Surrounded by throngs of married and engaged law students, I thought I was going to die alone, and it terrified me.

(fifteen years ago) I wore a tuxedo and said “I do” in a Catholic Church, and no lightning touched down upon our heads.

(twenty years ago) As a college sophomore I played video games and then went home and touched myself too many times.

(fifteen years ago) We danced to a song that took much too long to choose and sometimes now I can’t immediately remember what it was called.

(twenty-two years ago) I had a 1984 Chrysler Fifth Avenue and rolled up the sleeves on my T-shirts. Sometimes I stapled them so they’d stay.

(fifteen years ago) I gave into tradition for the last time as my best friend from college walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid instead of a groomswoman.

(twenty-four years ago) I cried about unrequited love and punched holes in my walls.

(fifteen years ago) Friends from each stage in my life drank and laughed with each other as they toasted my future.

(twenty-eight years ago) I snapped a girl’s bra strap and my dad said “Boys will be boys,” because he knew I’d eventually turn into a respectful man.

(fifteen years ago) I didn’t drink, but the night was still a drunken blur.

(thirty years ago) I devoured every book I could find and found whole new worlds worthy of exploration.

(fifteen years ago) We were too tired to consummate our marriage, and nobody noticed that giant red flag flapping in the air.

(thirty-two years ago) My parents burst with pride at my intelligence and precociousness, not realizing how unbearable it might become.

(fifteen years ago) I said I did, even though I showed I couldn’t.

(thirty-four years ago) I was the only male child, and I liked it.

(fifteen years ago) We started a new life with a terminal lifespan.

(thirty-six years ago) We moved to Florida from Boston and ate Raisin Bran for dinner, which amazed me at three years old.

(fifteen years ago) I hadn’t evolved from someone who knew everything to someone who knew he didn’t.

(thirty-eight years ago) My parents loved me fiercely without reservation, and haven’t stopped.

(fifteen years ago) I danced with my mother as she cried and took my face in both of her hands and kissed me.

(forty years ago) My mother looked at herself in the mirror and wondered what I’d be like when I arrived in three months.

and

(one year after my divorce) My best friend took me to dinner and wore a long blonde wig so, as he said, “I would feel like Amy was still there and wouldn’t be sad.”

Adam Avitable and his best friend in 2010

Time’s a funny thing.

A letter to my 19-year old self

In five days, I start my journey through the final year of my thirties. 39 doesn’t seem like an age that should hold any significance, but it feels like it launches the close of a chapter. Maybe a whole book.

I haven’t lived 39 years worth of living. There’s been a lot of time wasted while treading water, biding time, and hemming and hawing. But I’ve learned a lot, I’ve seen even more, and I wish I could go back and pass it on to myself as a teen. Here’s the letter I would send my 19-year old self:
Adam Avitable, comedian, at 19

Dear me,

It’s me, you. But I’m 38 now, and it’s the year 2016. When you’re reading this in 1997, you’re obsessed with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, reading Anne Rice over and over again, and spending your evenings playing Duke Nukem in the computer labs at Washington and Lee University, where you’re a junior. You study Japanese and ignore your core classes, which is why you’re going to graduate with a 3.9 in your major but a 2.7 overall. Luckily, your LSAT score will be so high that you’ll still get into a top 25 law school, without even taking a prep course. High five. Yeah, people still do that.

But here’s where you have to listen, and I know that’s the hardest part for you. You’ve spent 19 years being one of the smartest and most capable people in the room, even including the adults, and it’s left you with a feeling of omniscience. You start to think that you know better than everyone else, and that nobody has anything to teach you. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

You can learn something from everyone you meet. Succeeding in life isn’t about always being right, because while that’s fun, it can also alienate you from people who might otherwise be amazing parts of your life. Stop reveling so much in correcting others and start turning that eye inward. Learn about culture and society and interpersonal relationships and why personal connections give us a strength and power more than makes sense logically.

Stop controlling everything, because you’re not. You think you are, but it’s all out of a fear of the unknown. Let someone else take over sometimes. Go get drunk. Embarrass yourself. Be human. Stop trying to show the world an unbroken facade, because the cracks are way too visible.

It comes to an end. The facade crumbles and you’re left broken for a long time. A marriage that probably shouldn’t have happened, or at the very least should have included some real communication. Relationships that fizzle because you’d rather be right than loved. A desperation and depression that make it hard to get out of bed. This is where your path is taking you.

Go to law school, but realize that law school is an education, not a career. Start writing early, and start performing stand-up at open mics as soon as you can. Create! Make short films and write novels and perform comedy and realize that your purpose on this world is pretty clear. You’re not here to cure cancer. You won’t be President. You probably won’t even end up with a wife and kids. But your words and your actions will have a power that you can’t see right now. You can make an impact just by being you. But the you when you’re alone. The you who’s vulnerable and a little scared, but confident and hopeful. The you who wants to be loved and liked because that’s how he feels worthy. The you who’s honest and open, even if it hurts or makes him look weak.

Save your judgment for yourself and your love for everyone else. Show compassion and empathy above all else, and open your heart, your arms, and your door to those who need it. Love others like you really, really want to be loved, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you ever dare open your mouth to say anything against them.

And have fun! Go out, party, and don’t be so shy and creepy. Talk to the girls who made you nervous, like Ericka, Sarah, Courtney, or Celeste. They’re just people, too, and years later you’ll find out that you would have gotten along with them better than you could have realized. If only you’d given it a shot in the beginning, and stopped worrying what people thought.

Finally, buy stock in Apple. Trust me, it will be worth it.

-Adam Heath Avitable, age 38.

P.S. If you don’t believe it’s me, remember that time that we were 13 and almost broke our neck in an attempt at auto-fellatio? Yeah, nobody knows about that except us. Well, in 1996. In 2016, I talk about it on stage, so it’s no longer a secret.

P.P.S. Have sex soon! It’s worth it. Don’t wait until law school. Trust me. It’s amaaaazing.


This is part of a series in which I will attempt to write something every single day of 2016. Will I be able to do it? You’ll only know if you subscribe using the form below!

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Down The Gorilla Hole – Why Not Write Something Depressing on Christmas Eve?

I haven’t been able to write – to really, painfully, ripping off a scab write – in a while.

There’s plenty to say. I always have something to say. Getting it out in the way that I want has been the obstacle. How many ways can I talk about things being hard or difficult or frustrating before it becomes rote? And, compared to the rest of the world, do my problems measure up in any way? What is my hardship compared to what you or you or you are going through?

I’ll try, though.

Business has been slow. Like, agonizingly watching paint dry slow. Every order that comes in keeps the lights on, but nothing more. If I was working in an office, this might be bearable, but I’m going stir crazy at home. I work at home, stay at home to avoid going out and spending more money, sleep at home and it’s all home home home home home. There are moments when I want to burn this fucking house to the ground just so I don’t have to spend another second here.

Friends have disappointed me. There are people in my life who mean a lot to me, to whom I have given so much, emotionally and otherwise, and it’s a painful slap in the face discovering that it’s not reciprocal. I was even told that my friendship with one person couldn’t continue because of her newly embraced religious devotion. Sometimes people wonder why I rebel so much against blind ritual, tradition, and following the dogma of an organization that purports to be religious – maybe it’s because I get to be the guy that feels like shit because his friendship would be against the principles of a church. Not all friends have been disappointing – I don’t want it to sound like that – but it’s happened frequently enough that I’m disjointed and doubting myself.

The fact that we’re sinking neck-deep into the holiday season hasn’t helped, either. The holidays are a place for family and friends and tradition, and I actively avoid traditions, don’t always get along with much of my family, and can’t rely on some of my friends. After a two-hour appearance at a family party this evening, I’ll be skipping Christmas and just waiting on 2013 to hurry up and get here already.

Reflection

The biggest issue, though, and the reason that I’ve had so much difficulty writing, is the massive crippling disappointment I have in myself. In little over a month, I’ll be 36, and I’m not where I wanted to be by this age. I’ve started over. I’ve gone back to Go without collecting my $200.

I’ve plateaued on my weight loss for a while now. If I can dig down and find that motivation to exercise, I know that I will continue to lose weight, but right now, I’m not happy with how I look. It’s in my hands, but that doesn’t make it any less of a burden right now.

I’m single. I thought I’d be married and have kids. I didn’t realize that I’d fail at marriage, get divorced, and have to find someone new, who I could trust. I thought I found that person, but I was wrong. Her cruelty broke me and I started over yet again.

All of these goals I set for myself when I was younger have been for naught. Instead, I’m divorced, wading through the minefield that is dating, with no children and less security than I had at 30.

Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be? These are the questions that keep me from writing, because to examine them is to face the possibility that I can’t get there.

I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to have this financial albatross. I don’t want this large house filled with useless trinkets and gadgets. I don’t want to keep treading water. I don’t want to continue to wake up alone every morning.

I want to be back in Los Angeles.

I want to write professionally.

I want to have a family of my own.

And I’m terrified that I won’t get any of that.