My buddy, Spenser, and I were watching the movie, Untraceable, at about midnight last night. He had already seen the movie, and told me to pay-per-view it. Towards the beginning of the movie, he hinted at some clues that I would have missed if it were not for him so keenly highlighting them. I was entranced in the movie, reality melted away. My fears were real, my anxiety visible, and my frustration evident with the suspenseful plot. For example, the feeling one gets when the main character walks into a fatal situation they could have easily escaped if not for an innovative script writer.

As the protagonist walked up to her car with the killer obviously in it. I cussed at the actor saying, “that bitch deserves to die,” but inside I felt scared, worried, and anxious at what was to come. Then a thought hit me. It was sort of like life itself, when looking in retrospect, some decisions just seem plain stupid; however, the consequences are real. I turned to look at my buddy laying on the couch behind me – he was asleep. Things never changed.

I had known Spenser since the third grade when I had first moved to the little old town in California’s central valley. More than seventy-thousand people now, but I always saw it as a quiet little town. He was the popular one in the class for he was rich, good looking, and had everything any little kid ever wanted. His father was a well-known business man in town, and he had an intimidating quality about him. He owned a few restaurants, and had just remodeled a gorgeous contemporary home. Spenser’s mother was a very generous, homely mother, who put the world at his finger tips. The all American family I suppose. On the other hand, here I was a little insecure Indian boy in the third grade catapulted into a whole new environment where everything was so foreign and new. New kids, new town, new people, new lifestyles. I had always liked stability and routine. Our friendship began on a long rocky start in Ms. Wilsey’s third grade class.

He avoided me, and I him. He bragged about all he had, and I had nothing to brag about. My parents had always tried to give me everything and then some more. When I would tell my friends about the new Pokemon card I got in my booster pack, Spenser would interject and say he had five of the same kind. Everyone would flutter to him, and I would stand there embezzled of my two minutes of fame. I was used to being the blessed kid in class especially after living in Madera, a low income town in the lower part of the valley. My father, a physician, had just started his own practice when we decided to move. We rented a small house in an okay neighborhood which was practically missing a backyard if it were not for the three feet of grass separating the back sliding door from the fence. It was going to be our house until we found a home suitable in town.

I would wake up in the morning and walk in front of our little house in the morning for the bus to come alongside my mother, and there he would be looking out of the window – happy. Yeah I knew I had nothing and back then, to be honest, I really did not mind, but he just had so much. Inside I wanted to have more in life like cooler friends, nice cars, a big house, a pet dog, and a lifestyle worthy of envy. Yet who was I to change my own destiny. Until that day came, if it ever did, I would enjoy a mediocre life just like the rest, and the green Ford Windstar van overwhelmed by the mile meter.

Then within a few months of saving and looking around, we bought our first house in a nicer part of town, the Peacock Estates area. It was not a mansion from Beverly Hills by any means, but it was one of the bigger houses in town. A little over three thousand square feet and a roomy two story layout, but a tad bit too dark. It was huge at first. I now had my own room, and a backyard that captured my imagine. It reminded me of a scene straight out of the Jurassic Park. A jungle landscape neatly kept with ferns, maple trees, and beautiful ground-cover. We were finally living life the way it should be lived from a small child’s perspective. My dads’ friends’ houses were still much larger and fancier, but for us it was a great enough change. Life began to change as money beckoned on our door as my father’s practice began picking up. Friends were easier to woo, and anything I wanted was in my grasp. People began to notice me at school. I was fitting in.

My sister, Simran, and I buckled up our bikes the day after moving in and headed toward the end of the cul-de-sac when out of nowhere Spenser showed up with his older cousin Jessica. He looked at me, surprised, and then I knew that we were going to be friends for years to come, and many stories would since be minted in our minds. We soon became very close friends and we often joked to Spenser himself about adopting him for he had become part of our family. He lived at our house. We did mischievous things to piss of the neighbors, got into loads of trouble, lit things on fire, and always found new adventures in the different seasons of the year. So many stories and tales unfolded and always Spenser was there – a great friend. Our bond grew thick threw Elementary and into Junior high. High School came and cliques were born, but we still managed to keep our friendship afloat.

During my Junior year in High School we finally completed our dream home in an acre lot, surrounded by ten acres of luscious almond trees. The house was a dream come true started from paper to foundation. It was gorgeous at about nine thousand square feet with a pool, tennis court, prayer room, two gates, three dogs, an exercise room, game room, office, and so much more. I had money now, and people knew it. I was changed not only by the money but also by the new image it brought, and I soon forgot about the old. Memories seemed strange and foreign; my thoughts then seemed like someone else’s.

As I lay last night at the age of eighteen, I turned to look at Spenser sleeping on the couch behind me in the moon lit playroom, and the memories came flooding back. That guy next to me encompassed so many memories that I have had in my life. It felt like a time machine laying there so old, so many new worries, college on the horizon, new born insecurities, woman, and all. Back then we were so free, but now so much had changed. He was different – older, mature, and independent. I lay there thinking about how much life had given me, and many thing that I would have never have even expected nor imagined. I had been through some tough ups and downs in my life prior, but now life had reached a golden age where peace and prosperity had hit my family with overwhelming force, and I was thankful for everything, but I also missed so much.

I missed the simplicity and innocence of growing up without worry and leading a life of mischief without severe consequences. A life given to childhood. Not heeding many responsibilities, and dreaming of futures unshackled by the scathing blunt of reality. I was free, and now as each year passes I change. I am beginning to see black and white, habits are beginning to harden, relationships are becoming more fragile, egos are overcoming character, and my life is now a resume to persuade others. Do not get me wrong I am still young and happy, but compared to the openness and confidence I had then – I am missing a lot today.

Another thing that scared me while I lay on the couch that night was the depth by which I remembered such simple memories. Perhaps, things I would have never found worth remembering as I was doing them so many years ago. They brought smiles, grins, and frowns to my face in that dark room as I lay there staring at the ceiling fan flying by in circles just as my life seemed to be going. Life was speeding forth in what seemed to be a pre-planned circle, but the precision and predictability of life is much more bleak for it can change for the best or the worst in a instant. I knew the chance of a bolt flying of the fan was close to none, but I was not so sure about life. What scared me most were the memories that were beginning to get damaged by the strain of time for they were beginning to fade to darkness. I wanted to keep them. I wanted to live some moments as a child undisturbed again. I never wanted to grow up as a child, but now it was not an option. My reality of being eighteen was no blind shot into the future imagining what life would be as I graduated sixth grade, it was now my reality. Time did not wait for me to grow up.

I sat there thinking about the inevitable future of me being twenty-five, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy. I should add a big “if” in front of all those dreadful numbers, because life is just an “if” surrounded by a “l” and an “e.” I knew I would be different and in the future, I would wish to have my youth back again. I would wish to think back to when I was eighteen, and then wonder how could I have been so free, unrestricted, dumb, stupid, optimistic, negative, and so on. How could life be so good? Would I be a good father? Would I achieve my goals when I grew up to become a successful physician with money growing on trees? A beautiful wife with little boys well rounded and pre-accepted to institutions like Yale and Harvard. Would I leave behind a legacy? Would some event take my life in my early years? Would some devastating circumstance hinder my mental stability and rob me of who I thought I am? So many variables decide my fate and future, but I find my trust in putting my destiny in the hands of He who makes it all happen, God. In his mercy I trust.

My future is unknown and that is the part that frightens me the most. For my past has become a sheer breeze in my mind that blows every so often to rekindle frozen moments in time. However, one day my reality will be my future sitting back, and looking at a fading past I call my present.

I am here, and I am now. Tomorrow this man who is typing these keys will be dead forever, and only resurrected by the powerful whims of the past. When I try to resurrect and recall the man who is typing these very keys in the future, I will never be able to fully recreate the thoughts, emotions, and present feelings that were once here as I wrote this story. I will become a stranger to myself for every second that passes a new conscious is born, and another memory is murdered to the depths of the mind. Some will breeze back many years from now, and others will never be retrieved nor recalled. Hence, the death of a mortal is forever a cycle of life.

The past is just a horribly sketched fantasy, and the future a grimmer reality projected by the mind as accurate as the script of a movie. Live in the present for that is the only time you are really you.

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