Prom Time Machine Vortex
It’s astounding how silently time can slip by when you aren’t paying attention.
I don’t know if I can adequately verbalize the shocking sensation of looking at the calendar and realizing that five years have passed since my high school prom.
It’s not so much the event itself, but all that the event represents in my memory – who I was then, who I was with, where I thought I was heading.
This girl, she is no stranger to me, but I, the future incarnation, am a stranger to her. Here, in this picture, she sees someone else in my place, five years down the road.
I want to hold her hand. I want to hug her – because she has no idea what’s coming. I look so young. Sometimes this girl, doesn’t seem like me. I often refer to her as “my other life.” Maybe in an alternate universe, there is a me who more closely resembles the person I thought I would be by now.
But here’s the secret: I’m happy that I didn’t become that person.
At my senior prom (which, by the way, was magical, epic, just like a perfect ending to a movie), I was absolutely certain I thought I knew who I was going to grow up to become. I was going to be an opera singer. I was going to marry the boy I went to two proms with. I was going to graduate college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance in four years or lessand go on to achieve a Master’s Degree and then hopefully enter the prestigious Julliard School of Opera, and go on to dominate every stage, and bring opera back to popular prominence (yes, singlehandedly).
I could not know that, within a few short months, I would decidedly abandon my operatic aspirations while simultaneously becoming sucked into the dark vortex that would be my life for the next several years. I could not know that I would lose all sense of myself, lose my voice (to me, like losing a limb), lose all direction and hope.
I also could not know how strong I could be, how resilient. I never envisioned a life where music was not absolutely central, and I never envisioned a life where my dependent trust on the people in my life would be brutally shattered. I would not know, that in a fit of bitter rage, I would delete from my hard drive nearly every drop of evidence of this night in an attempt to erase the person who had hurt me the most from my memory (an act that, as I write this, I vaguely regret). But had these things never happened, I would have never have been able to grow, I would have never have been able to explore the world and humanity the way I have been lucky to. I cannot say with any certainty where I would be right now, had I clung to music, but I see my friends struggling and breaking themselves to try to gain a foothold in a cruel and damaging industry, and without a doubt I know that I made the right choice, even though it felt like dying at the time.
I still don’t know exactly where I’m going. I can see a blurry shape of where I might be headed, but there is no definition, no clarity. I used to be terrified by this, but now I understand that what I cannot see is not because it isn’t there, it is just because I am too far to see it yet. I know that I will get there. I know that once I get there, there will be another far-off vision that I will strain to see. Thus is my life – all life, really.
I have no idea where I will be in five years. That woman, the 27-year-old future me, is a mystery, a stranger, but one day I will know her, and the best I can hope is that I love her, dearly, as I have learned to love myself over the past five years.
Looking back, has your life unfolded the way you had expected? Yes, darlings, I realize this is a bit of a loaded question for a lovely Friday in June but I really am interested!
And of course, for a bit of fun, did you go to prom or a senior ball or whatever in high school? If so, what was it like? What did you wear? Who did you go with? How long ago was it? If not, tell me!