I am 39. Ten years ago I was 29. Ten years before that I was 19.
The first digit of my age has changed, but my base expectations from life are the same today as they were two decades ago. I am expecting a woman to rescue me.
From where this reverse chivalric notion evolved I have no idea. In another life I may be a fireman, going to work every day to subliminally fill a desire to rescue a woman from a burning building. And maybe, when I get home, my wife would be a reformed drunk, my powerful love holding her hand those few inches from the bottle.
And as I age I would let my smile grow at the same rate her hand moved from the bottle.
But this is my life, not that one, and I am passive, my main actions being self-harm. Like the bower bird nonsensically collecting blue bottle tops, blue pegs, blenag nesting remedies, all hardwired nutty actions to attract a mate, so too I put on my display.
I trudge to the dealer. I buy gear, I inject it. I hide-but-don't-hide my use. At work it is never mentioned. No potential mates at work. But out of work, I run websites, I leave the sharps kit under my seat in the car where it rolls out easily for itinerant passengers, erstwhile friends and strangers to see.
One can observe ones own craziness, this in no way gives you the power to change it. Or perhaps it does, and you're just talking to a person still only started down the path to self amendment.
A boy, nine or ten. Hard to tell. He grows slowly - this gives his parents cause for worry, he is so small for his age. But it gives him hope. Maybe he'll live to be 160, if he is only ageing at 2/3 normal rate.
Fractions are important to him, more important than to other boys his age. He knows he is seven eights the average height of a boy his age. He knows he is three quarters, or 75 percent the way through this year, and in just another 1/26 of a year, or a fortnight, he will be free of school and those who mark him out as smaller, different, for another nearly-a-quarter of a year.
But fractions are not all. They are important, they give a heartbeat and linear progression to his life that nothing else quite does, but it is not all. He has his discarded cigarette box collection, that his sister describes as disgusting, and cannot understand why his parents allow him to keep collecting them.
Music hasn't entered his life yet. He is only 2/3 of his way to the point where music raps him sharply on the skull. And what a great day that'll be. 1986, and Oils and Gang of Four are actually recording right now that which will energise him in five years to come. That will happen, sometime after midnight on another stillborn night.
Where fraction did not apply, lists stepped up and assisted. Or as he would later know them, sets. But to keep with the times, he had lists. One particular one was handwritten, kind of like a recipe, in the back of a photo album. Fourteen or fifteen boys names. His name was there, but it wasn't the first one. In fact, it had been crossed out. His parents were calling him by a name they had rejected when trying to name him. Perhaps the world was not all as it appeared to be. Who knew when reality would slip. Most likely at the edges, in places where people don't usually look. Lists would help detect that, Lists of directors with first and last names starting with the same letter - there were too many of those, it had to mean something.
The list of name choices. Felix was there. Not crossed out. Everyone knows that when you make a list of possibilities, you cross off those things you don't want on the list until you have one left, and that must be what you want. Kind of filling in a positive space until the emptiness that's left behind is what you want.
Thirty year slater this emptiness would be all he knew. Desire for emptiness can be the most powerful of drivers in bio-organisms.
It's nearly 2am and you're standing over your bathroom sink with the lights off. Everything is shades of grey. You cannot tell where your sight finishes and memory is kicking in. For example, you cannot see the drain if you look directly at it - you need to be looking off a little to the right to let the cones handle more of the limited light. But then you don't know if it is just your memory filling in what is expected. If the plughole had been plastered over with white whilst you slept, would there be any way you could tell without touching it?
It's the same with these childhood memories. You know objectively that there was a list that you looked at as a child. But was your name really crossed out? Was Felix circled? Or is that just a fertile imagination matching up past history to stories that you've used later in your life? Which came first, calling yourself Felix, or being nearly called Felix? How many other childhood memories are just that, plastered over stories and anecdotes, retold and reheard so many times the original sketch has completely disappeared?
Of course, continuing this line of reasoning in a linear fashion - were you ever a child? Perhaps you were born yesterday, as they say, and given a set of implanted memories. Nod to PK Dick and his Replicants. There is no objective way to separate memory fact from memory fiction. There are no timestamps, nor autoincrements in the human data filing system. Why not? Evolution tends to discard that which is not necessary to survival.
Well, evolution does not discard. It's a bit more brutal in reality. A lifeform that put too much credence on timestamping memories may have sprung up along the way but not been allowed to breed - probably it sat under a tree ordering its childhood memories chromatographically while its cro-magnon mates were screwing the naked cavewomen, passing on their non-timestamp-memory genes to generations of forgetful but lusty brats.
Or it could even be harsher. Saber tooths pulling the introspective caveman to bits after catching him unawares - looking inwardly, instead of that survival pre-requisite in those days - looking externally.