Photo: ~MVI~ (surviving on globe tattoo), Flickr Creative Commons (Black-fleshed breed of chicken found in Asia)
My wife has spent part of the last three days dragging stuff out of our storage rooms on the outside of our house and I've had to go through some boxes of my old stuff to see what I wanted to throw away and what I wanted to keep. Most of it I've been willing to trash or pack up for donations to the mission store. I've moved a few items, like the old grenades (hollowed out) and the knight's helmet into my office for decoration, but I'm actually less sentimental than my wife so I've been willing to chunk more of it than she would actually let me get rid of. One of the few things that I do have a little sentimentality about are my old notebooks. They're full of poems, journals, and fiction that I wrote between 6th-grade and the end of high school. The poetry is shit. It's mopey and cloying and probably not even that well written. The personal essays are much more interesting. In one of these notebooks I found an obituary I wrote for myself, probably sometime during the middle of my high school years. I thought I'd type it up and share it.
A prominent American writer, thinker and teacher died last week at the age of
86eighty-six. Jacob [redacted] passed away on his two hundred acre western Montana ranch from what has been described by authorities only as respiratory arrest. Dr. [redacted] was best known for his bestselling novels and movies, but won many awards for his poetry, social commentary and teaching, both domestically and abroad. Dr. [redacted] hadretired from commercial writing and his teaching position at a major university over a decade ago but stayed in the spotlight with occasional literary works up until his death. At the time of his demise, [redacted] kept himself busy by running his ranch and teaching classes at a local community college. Dr. Jacob [redacted] is survived by his 2 children and younger sister.
The first thing that strikes my eye more than 15 years later is my distinct lack of understanding about agriculture out west. Two hundred acres would be a ridiculously small ranch in Montana. The arid land just can't support ruminants in large numbers. Sure, you can maintain a sizable herd on that much land here in the East, but out there I'd have needed more like 2,000 acres for even a hobby ranch. It's also funny that I mention the two kids but fail to even mention a wife. I know the reason for that. I never considered family in my future back then. I didn't really even think of my future as involving anyone but myself until I met my wife back in college. The kids were mentioned, I think, more because it was just assumed that I'd have kids than any real desire for them. After all, everyone has kids as adults. It was never something I actually wanted.
It's also interesting to see how little I've really changed. If I were to write my ideal obituary today, very little of this would need to be rewritten. Instead of the ranch out in Montana, I'd have a dairy farm and creamery outside of Portland, Oregon, based largely on the farming practices of Polyface Farms in Virginia. My wife would feature prominently in the obituary and there'd only be a single offspring. The rest I think I'd leave the same.
Of course now I've lived long enough to realize that none of this will ever happen. Sure, maybe one day I'll stop being so lazy and actually write something and then get lucky enough to have it published, but I'm long past the point of believing that anything can happen. I know there are limits to my future and I never really could have been whatever I wanted to be.
I know that makes me sound more miserable than I actually am. Sure, I was a bit down for a bit after reading this and being reminded just how far off the mark my life has gone despite still wanting the same things I wanted almost two decades ago, but I really can't complain too much. I love my wife, she's devoted to me, and my son isn't too horrible. Still, it would be kind of awesome to have lived that life I dreamed up back then.