When All The World’s Familiar

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

There’s something about knowing your items are in the right place. My notebook is kept on the makeshift nightstand beside my bed, always. I set my keys in the bowl on the kitchen island every time I come home. There’s at least one Chapstick that I store in my purse pocket and another one in every other bag that I use. I feel that these seemingly trivial routines, this level of familiarity to all my things, gives me some small kind of comfort knowing that there are no surprises. Of all the things that happen in life that are beyond me, at least some things are in my control.

I recently met up with some friends I hadn’t talked to or seen in about a year. When I walked up to my old friend her back was turned to me. To get her attention I called her by a name she probably hadn’t heard in awhile. I have an affinity for calling my female friends by their male name equivalents (Danielle becomes Daniel, or even more shortened to Da-nell). She turned around, practically in shock. I’m the only one that uses that nickname and she knew immediately who was speaking to her.

Amidst the jumble of playing a quick catch-up, one of the first things she mentioned was how my nails were done. “You never do your nails!” she said. And she was right, that was the first time I had gotten my nails done in about three years. She hadn’t seen me for one and I felt like I had just seen her last week at dinner. I know it was something incredibly small, yet not everyone knows things like that about me. Or can say something like that with complete and sagacious certainty. It’s very strange to know someone for over ten years and come together as if you hadn’t ever been separated, even if we talked for only half an hour.

There’s something about being with someone who knows the past versions of yourself and who capitalizes on little details about yourself that maybe you had forgotten. I have a lot of people I know and surround myself with. They’re amazing and lovely people who I love being with. But they probably haven’t seen me cry. They probably don’t even know I have the capability of negative or heavy emotions (I have a smile practically glued to my face, it’s my fundamental flaw).

Sometimes it’s nice to fall back on the past and those who were a part of it. I spend so much time basically catapulting into my future, a place that is unknown and often times intimidating. My past is somewhere that is comfortable and unbelievably safe. A place where everything has already played out and I know the outcomes already.

It’s not even really about the nostalgia that comes with thinking about the past. It’s about how familiarity can be almost therapeutic. I always wondered how to describe the feeling I got driving past the neighborhoods I used to live in, or that perpetual feeling of being suspended in the air when I listened to old music from my teenage years. The feeling of rushing, of falling, of being still all at once. I feel these things and I feel them so strongly because I’ve known them once before. I can identify them and therefore store them away accordingly.

This must also be the reason for my constant need for organization. Why I clean my apartment twice a week, why my shoes are always in the same exact spots in my closet. I struggle to keep my life in order by making sure my clothes are hung up in their proper places.  And I feel like we all do similar things in some form, whether you get your nails done promptly every two weeks or consistently vacuum your car mats. Or meet up with old friends every few months, just to talk about things that you can mutually relate to.

There’s something about the past that equates to home. It’s nice to have someone who wholly knows you or at least knew you, once. It’s nice to know where things are and know that if you leave, they’ll be there if you come back. And it’s okay to withdraw into our form of familiar every once in awhile. I guess it’s because we’re just trying to find our way back home.

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