Last Sunday, I was sitting in DAR Constitution Hall waiting for Wilco to come on stage.
I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Wilco perform. But this was the first time I saw them play “Sunken Treasure.” Or at least, it was the first time since last spring when I lapsed into a funk so deep that the only music I could stand to listen to for a solid month was Being There. For a while, I could only listen to the first disk, but then for a time I could only listen to “Sunken Treasure” on repeat.
But there is no sunken treasure
Rumored to be
Wrapped inside my ribs
In a sea black with ink
I don’t know if this kind of thing happens to other people. I don’t know what other people mean when they say they feel alone.
Today is my 30th birthday.
I remember when 30 sounded old. Frankly, it still sounds old.
Sometimes I think about the child I was, and I wonder if it was actually me. I wonder if there’s any continuity between that person and this person. I wonder if she’d be disappointed in me.
Most children want to be something when they grow up, it seems. It’s something we emphasize early on. You are identified by a profession, by a marriage, by being a parent. What do you do? Are you married? Do you have kids?
Apparently this is a thing.
When I was 6, I essentially wanted to be Carl Sagan (although I don’t think I knew who that was). When I was 8, I wanted to be a paleontologist. Those were passing fancies, and the truth is, I never had a clear idea of what I wanted out of life. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about getting married or having kids.
I just assumed I’d have a job, any job, and that maybe I’d get married. But it was never anything substantial. There’s that famous John Lennon quote: “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” I don’t think I even thought about being happy. To this day, it’s not a word I understand.
But then, I don’t think I understand life either.