The Gid

While I was back home in Virginia for a friend’s wedding this past weekend, my mom asked me to take a look at the items in my childhood desk to see if everything could be packed up. While rummaging through piles of papers in the drawers, I found several journals written by Young Jamey.

I didn’t keep journals on a regular basis, but I always fancied the idea that after I passed away, researchers would go through my early works and piece together a greater understanding of Jamey Stegmaier. Perhaps all journal keepers (let’s not call them diaries here) delude themselves with such self-important ideas.

Having now re-read some of those old journal entries, I sure hope they’re never discovered.

There is one entry that really stood out and made me think, so I thought I’d share it with you. I’ll summarize:

I wrote the journal entry after my third date with a freshman named Carter (I was a senior at the time…the scandal!) And in this journal entry, I am positively giddy about this girl and this date. Giddy.

In great detail I describe how fun and flirtatious and forward Carter is. I spend an entire paragraph describing a moment when she turned towards me, tossing her hair in the opposite direction (I compare it to shampoo commercials). I thought she was so, so pretty.

At first I rolled my eyes at Young Jamey. So young, so innocent. It’s precious, really.

But as I continued to read the entry, I realized that it wasn’t Young Jamey who was the anomaly. It’s Current Jamey. Whatever happened to those days when a simple toss of the hair could make me want to shout poems from the mountaintops? What happened to the time when a single kiss was the apex of all time and creation?

Truth be told, I miss Young Jamey.

Not that Young Jamey acted purely with his heart. When I was learning the ways of women and relationship, I was aware of a crude set of rules that all guys had to follow: When you can get to first base, second base, so on. What it means to hold her hand. How often should you see your girl, and how long you should talk on the phone at night. Step by step instructions on how you should kiss a girl.

But at least Young Jamey knew nothing of tempered excitement. He couldn’t help but fall in love with the little moments that I now overlook all too often.

I don’t know if this is something I can actively work on, but I’m going to try. Because I’d really like to get in touch with my inner Young Jamey.

What aspects of your youth and innocence do you wish you could tap into now?

18 thoughts on “The Gid”

  1. I used to be smart. We I was young, I was exceptional. People were impressed by me on a regular basis. I took pride in my intelligence. Over the years, I think I have suppressed that part of my that was proud to know all of the answers. It was just not socially acceptable to be smart, and even less so to be a woman and smart. I can actually remember a boyfriend looking at me with consternation and saying “Nobody likes a know-it-all.” Now I look back and realize all of the things I used to enjoy always took a back seat to the things other people enjoyed about me. I think it’s too late. If you don’t use it, you lose it, right? I fear that I am doomed to be an average person living a mediocre life.

    • Rachael–That’s a really interesting answer. I think one of the tricky things about those of us who grew up knowing a lot of the answers is that part of the curse of being a smart kid is that we may not have known when to bite our tongue.

      But now you’re probably much more socially self-aware than you were back then…so maybe at some point the smarts you experienced earlier will come back, and you’ll have the best of both worlds! Or you can just write a blog about yourself and feel like you’re an expert about something. 🙂

    • Wow! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately! I’ll read some blog or article or overhear people having conversations in the coffeeshop about really intellectual or socially political and relevant topics. I feel like a major loser. A let down. I have begun to doubt my entire self. My essence of being. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this.

      Maybe I will write a book or screenplay on this very topic. I think it’d be very relatable. That indie film that’s sad with a feel good ending. Zooey Deschnal can star in it–isn’t she in all the feel-good indies? 😉 As a novel it will be the The Perks of Being a Wallflower of 2010s. Perhaps I will call it American Kryptonite. (hehe jamey, kidding!)

      Thank Rachael for making me feel less alone and pathetic.

  2. My answer to this is twofold:

    The woman that now loves dresses and makeup used to be an extreme tomboy. I lived in a small neighborhood at the city limits with only a handful of houses and a lot of green space. One of my favorite summertime activities included donning a pair of cutoff jean shorts and climbing one of the many pine trees in my neighbor’s yard. I’d climb as high as I dared, until I was dangerously close to the top, where every slight breeze felt like a gale force wind that made the tree top sway back and forth. I’d find a branch that didn’t feel like it would give way and settle in for a while. Everything was so quiet and peaceful up there. It kind of felt like nothing else in the world mattered. I was young and blissfully ignorant and didn’t have any to-do lists or deadlines constantly running through my head. I wasn’t worried about bills, work, laundry, grocery shopping or my schedule for the next week. I could just BE and take it all in. Plus, I felt totally fine wearing CUT OFF JORTS and accessorizing with tree sap and skinned knees and I didn’t give a damn about what anyone else thought. I’d give anything to feel like that again, although I’d make better fashion choices this time around. 🙂

    Then in college, that ambition set in and I felt like I was going to take on the world. I didn’t know how, but I was going to be someone—someone known, someone special, someone who’d made a profound difference in the world. I remember having a conversation with my mom during my junior year that I couldn’t wait to graduate and start my career. I wanted it all to happen RIGHT THEN, because I knew it was going to be spectacular. The eagerness and optimism astounds me even now. And not even 10 years later, I’m stuck in middle management and living in the suburbs, having made concessions and compromises after graduation. It’s not that I feel hopeless or even unhappy with my life as it is, but I feel like it’s too late now to be that person I thought I’d be, and I wonder how I got here, which makes me a little disheartened. I know that someone is going to tell me that it’s never too late and I’m still young, but it’s much harder now to take that leap then it would have been when I was young and unattached. I’d like to be able to get back to that point, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

    What do you think Young Jamey would say to you if he met Current Jamey?

    • Katie–Great answer. May I suggest you get some jean cutoffs again? It seems that may be a key part of getting in touch with Young Katie. 🙂

      The theme of several of these comments (and my own entry) seems to be mediocrity. We seem to want excitement and adventure and grand plans. I wonder, though (just to be the devil’s advocate) if we’re underrating mediocrity, security, and consistency.

      • It’s not that you’re underrating mediocrity, security and consistency…I think genuinely intelligent people prefer not to settle for something less than they once experienced.

        Even though quite a few people want security, routine and consistency, I find a lot of people I talk to want more out of life because they don’t understand how they got to where they are today. They don’t understand how they lost their zest for life. They don’t understand how somewhere along the way bills and money became more important than experiences and making do with what you can. (This isn’t everyone, but it seems to be the people I know with a high IQ.)

        So to answer your devil’s advocate question, it depends. It depends on what YOU want out of life. Some people are perfectly happy with mediocrity, but secretly (as I’ve found out) they’re jealous of those of us who are doing what we’ve always said we’re going to do. They’re jealous because we haven’t settled.

        Just my two cents,…mediocrity is overrated. 😉 Why be less when you can be more? Why get less out of life when you know there is the potential for more?

        • Georgia–That’s a good point. No one likes to settle.

          And I’m definitely just being the devil’s advocate here. I will say, though, that I think it’s possible to be happy anywhere, doing anything. So just because I’m not a famous writer with 5 successful tech startups doesn’t mean I can’t be happy and grateful for what I have. (I don’t think anyone was suggesting otherwise, and I think it’s so important to yearn for more, but I think it’s something that’s good to keep in mind.)

          • Knowing you were playing devil’s advocate I was just throwing out supporting evidence from friends in my own life.

            Well said, you CAN be happy anywhere as long as you keep challenging yourself. 🙂

            (Because words have no “tone” I promise the above paragraph was not meant to sound “snarky” in ANY way…)

  3. I exactly know how you feel:) I still have all my old journal entries and i miss the optimistic Dee who wasn’t yet jaded by the world and all her mistakes.

    I realized how open my heart was to new and frightening experiences. I miss that reckless abandonment I used to feel. I know I need to get that back.

    I think you should read some of your journal entries for “Mortified”. Look them up.

    Young Dee (hearts) Young Jamey 😉

    • Dee–Reckless abandonment. I wish I had that at some point in time. I barely know what that means.

      “Mortified” is also a bit foreign to me (at least in the journal entries I read this past weekend. I was a boy of many observances and few actions, of afterthoughts and regrets. I don’t think I put myself in many situations that could leave me mortified.

  4. The only thing I wish I could tap into from my youth is my lack of inhibitions. It seems as we become adults we are trained certain behaviors aren’t considered socially acceptable. Lately I’ve been trying to be free of said inhibitions, like not caring what people think of the new blue/purple streaks in my hair, or how I sing while I work, or dance everywhere…sometimes even if there isn’t music on. These are things that are intrinsic to my personality and for some stupid reason I’ve suppressed these behaviors. Like someone mentioned above, these are the things that my friends didn’t mind and actually loved about me, along with the free spirited way I was willing to make a fool of myself just to cheer them up or make them laugh. Somewhere along the way I started worrying about what people thought. Then I just needed to remember what Dr. Seuss said, ( I’m paraphrasing) “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!”

    Here’s to getting back to normal… 😛

    • Georgia–“Somewhere along the way I started worrying about what people thought.” I like that. When we’re young, we’re not all that aware of what others think of us. That’s a burden we give ourselves over the years. Here’s to getting back to the good ole days!

  5. I miss feeling like I’m on top of things. There was a time when there wasn’t much more to life than school, sports, friends, eating, and sleeping. I could handle that. I had goals and tasks to accomplish, but everything seemed manageable. In fact, I often felt like I was succeeding. Now, the list of things that I need to accomplish is consistently longer than what is manageable. I constantly feel behind. I haven’t felt truly on top of things/caught up/ahead in life in years…literally years. It really makes me sad to think about, and it makes me wonder when I went from ahead to behind. Was it a gradual thing or did it happen all at once with some major life transition? How did this happen? Is there any way to get back to where I was?

    • Trev-That’s so interesting, the feeling of always being behind. I haven’t felt ahead in years. Well, with one exception, and maybe this is the answer: Maybe we just have to come to terms with the fact that we’re never going to catch up in every area of our lives. But we can pick a few specific areas to really focus on and act on, and by doing so, we’ll feel like we’ve caught up.

      I say this because I’ve felt that way when I write fiction, which I haven’t done in a while. I can be behind in a million ways in my life, but if I go to bed knowing that I just wrote 5 pages of fiction, I feel completely caught up and satisfied and happy. All the other things melt away.

      So maybe that’s one possible answer. Catch up in an area of your life that makes all the other areas seem like not that big of a deal.

  6. I’m so very late to this entry, but I love it.

    Young Emily was good at sports. I played football literally every day in my front yard with my best friends, all 3 of whom were guys so they taught me how to throw, catch, etc. “like a guy.” My older brother taught me how to properly shoot a basketball. I could play baseball and actually hit the damn ball, catch it and throw it an adequate distance and was not confined to right field. I’d kick that kickball over outfielders’ heads when they all came forward to the plate b/c a girl was up.

    I have NO IDEA what’s happened now. I don’t know if my desire to be considered more feminine in high school did it, but while I can still throw a football pretty well, it’s only well “for a girl.” I can’t throw a baseball anymore to save my life. I don’t know why I’d need to throw a baseball to save my life, but should that be required, I will die a painful death. I’m no longer good at sports and it drives me nuts, to the point where I’m apprehensive to do these things I used to love in front of people who did not know me then. I can at least still play pool pretty well and I can swim like a fish.

    • This is my favorite line of the day: “I don’t know why I’d need to throw a baseball to save my life, but should that be required, I will die a painful death.”


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