Lately I’ve found that there’s a longing to visit locations and friends from my past. Locations and friends that not only helped raise me but also made me realize that there is so much more I could be. Tattoos and memories, integral to my development and well being, of which I held so near and dear to my heart. I sought solace in believing that they would always be there, the same ways in which they live in my memory; flawless, eternal and almost god-like until finally I realize that these friends are human and the locations are physical. All of this was nothing more than an idealist fantasy, made believable through my own childhood ignorance, denial, and wishful thinking.

Today as an adult, I have learned through experience that very few, if anything at all ever stays the same. Locations will change, buildings decay or are reduced to rubble and taken away, childhood is a mere blink of an eye, and it isn’t until adulthood that one realizes this fact and regrets putting aside certain childhood experiences in the hopes that one still had plenty of time. There isn’t anything which time hasn’t touched, and this past year I made a genuine effort to meet up with old friends and visit the places where I used to roam as a child.

In 2018 I came to realize that one can become addicted to a certain kind of sadness. For me, it is a certain form of sadness which results from loss. The loss of an old friend, the loss of an irreplaceable possession, or the loss of a location where one had many positive childhood experiences. Experiences, accomplishments, and accolades turn bittersweet all too soon, filling our minds and parlance with stories of days gone by, almost reminiscent of old times, resurrected as if the past were suddenly somehow superior to present.

And then there are regrets. From a very young age, I had regrets, coupled with the classic and typical, trivial and mundane, fears of childhood. There are so many things I wished I could have done, things I should have done, and perhaps a few things that I should never have done. But it’s too late now to change the past; all I can do at this point is to say that I’m sorry for everything I have done in my past which was wrong, was a mistake on my part, or worst of all, hurt someone in some way.

“People sometimes ask me if I could start my life over again, would I have done things differently? Truth is, if I could do it all again, I would have changed it all.”

Thomas Slatin

When I was 16, I had my first taste of love. I thought I knew what love was back then, but what did I really know? I realize now that my feelings were there, this kind of love was the unrequited kind, where I was in love with her, and she didn’t truly love me, she only loves things about me. I didn’t truly realize it at the time. I made many mistakes back then, and even bigger ones during the next few years, developing an unhealthy reliance upon the notion that I was young and there was always an infinite supply of, and seemingly never ending promises of brand new days. And with each new day came the promise that my mistakes if not corrected, would certainly be forgotten in time. I was also guilty of believing that I would live forever, now I’m not so sure, feeling my body get slowly weakend by the years, fearing that my time is often short, and I must make amends and make up for lost time. So much time.

When I was 18, I would become professionally certified as an Emergency Medical Technician in New York State, then at 20, I would earn a second certification as a Firefighter. The local newspaper, the Delware County Times, would eventually run an article titled Thomas Slatin Is Career EMT, on March 10, 2000. Both certifications would eventually take me far in my young adult life, both professionally as well as to new places in which to roam. I truly believed that I had everything going for me and that I would  be an EMT/Firefighter for the rest of my life. Eventually I was offered the position of EMT/Firefighter Lieutenant many years later, but decided to decline the position, realizing that I would much rather pursue my passion for writing and photography. I was younger then, I was reckless and wild, living for the moment instead of focusing on my future goals in the assumption that my dreams would eventually come true as long as I was doing something productive, even if it were completely unrelated.

On the morning of February 23, 2013, my father passed away at age 97. I was 33 at the time. It was an enormous loss, considering that my father had often joked that he would live forever, and in the handful of years before he died, he suggested that he had something that he needed to tell me which was important, but would need to wait until the time was right. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to do so. Several written works were inspired by his incredible life and of our shared experiences. My favorite piece was entitled Generation Gap. In the months to follow, I became increasingly curious as to the contents of an old cardboard box which had been stashed in a back room, which still bared my name, and was part of the contents from my personal belongings from when my family moved from New York City when I was around age 8. The box contained random belongings, including a handful of casette tapes which I had recorded as a young, curious child.

I realize now that the older I get, the less impulsive I become, yet the same simple fears still cloud my mind. Fears that if I focus enough, I can almost trace them to my youth. I remember seeking the advice of my high school English teacher in my senior year, who suggested that I devote my life to writing. Later on that year, I sought out the advice of my art teacher, who taught me an enormous amount about philosophy, yet ironically, very little about art. Both teachers gave me the advice to take a good, concentrated look at where one is in life every so often to appreciate what one has accomplished and as a means to determine and evaluate ones future goals and plans. Since then I have made a concious effort to do this self assessment ever so often, and to do a major self assessment every 10 years. I’ll be turning 40 soon, and realize that despite all that I have been through, worked hard to overcome, and the things which I accomplished, even if by chance or accident, generally I have not given myself enough credit.

The quote for this article came from this post. The header image came from the post, Game Day.

Not Taking Enough Pictures Is Something I Regret | Will The Memories Die? | Snapshots And Memories And Days Of My Youth | I Used To Be A Habitual Trespasser | Some Ways To Help Deal With Loss | Fears And Regrets | Chasing Cars

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