JUNK FOOD: Arrested Development

September 2022

I had a fight with a neighbor this summer. This was very unusual – we’ve been good pals for the five years I’ve lived in this house. But something shifted one day and, on the heels of a misunderstanding, we yelled at each other across the shared driveway. She said she was done with my “childish behavior,” and I shouted back, “Everyone is a child if you spend all your time mothering.” Yeesh.

But the other day, while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey for the thirtieth time, it occurred to me that the neighbor and I were seeing each other mid-transition. We hadn’t had any meaningful interactions since covid, and a lot has changed since 2020 on both macro and micro levels. And change is flipping hard. Without the benefit of a big ole leg bone turning into a spaceship, we often can’t identify our subjective, personal transitions until they’re in the rearview.

I am not the same person I was at the beginning of 2020. But, none of us are. I’ve set up my life such that I have the time and space to ruminate and think my thoughts at my leisure (read: all day long), which makes me both more, and less well-suited for change; I have the time and space to process things, but in a vacuum. So, when I returned inside after the shout-off I had the luxury of unpacking what had just gone down.

The conclusion I came to was that the leg bone had gone full spaceship, but that I had not been privy to everything that happened between the cuts. In 2001 the transition makes for an iconic cut from man’s deepest past to his still-distant future by artfully skipping over four million years of human strife, reflection, and evolution. But in my driveway, it felt like my neighbor and I were yelling from opposite sides of the cut (leg bone vs. spaceship) without an acknowledgement of how much happens between one and the other.

We have since made up, though things aren’t quite what they used to be. Still, change is hard, and I don’t begrudge someone the pace of her journey; a lot can happen in four million years.