Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who am I?

I don’t know why, but at work the other day, I was thinking about my life in general and how complicated we actually are as human beings. While it’s relatively easy to sum someone up in a few words, e.g. nice, edgy, Type A, big hearted, and etcetera, it really and truly is impossible to answer the question Who am I? in just a few words. Can't be done.

My answer to the above question would look something like the following and even then, it’s ridiculously abbreviated. Note: There is no real order to my list; it’s more stream of conscience bellowing than structured thought.

Who am I? Who the heck is Derek Odom?

  • I’m the kid who likes to spend time alone, playing with Hot Wheels cars and reading books.
  • I’m the kid who learned at a very early age how to become invisible, how to sink inside himself when there was trouble, how to cope using positive energy instead of anger.
  • I am a chess player, but more than that, I am chess. The game has shaped me in a way very few other things have.
  • I’m on stage at the Roxy, playing with an original band, angry at myself because I’m drunk once again and cannot play well. At the actual Roxy.
  • I’m hammered at the river circa 1996 or so, looking out over glass-smooth water somewhere in the ballpark of 4 a.m. Everyone in camp has long been asleep/passed out, and I’m leaning on the door of my ’68 Fury, drinking and drifting. On the other side of the cove, someone has brought a generator and a huge house stereo. Sublime is traveling across to me like messages in the wind, and I’m happy. I’m truly happy in that moment.
  • I’m the old-books-and-clothes smell of thrift stores.
  • I’m riding a motorcycle for the very first time on the freeway, knees hugging the tank in a death lock, scared shitless of the traffic and the speed.
  • I’m trying desperately to start my Plymouth after having sex at the drive-in movies, fully realizing we’ll have to spend the night where we sit.
  • I’m in love with Shannon Reid, an infatuation that lasted seven full years in my childhood. She hated me.
  • I’m avoiding conflict.
  • I’m one of the luckiest sons of bitches alive.
  • I’m at Lake Okoboji in Iowa, the faraway sound of motorboats comforting in a way I cannot describe.
  • I’m getting beat up by a large fat kid named Renee in seventh grade. I was beat up a lot that year.
  • I’m on the roof of a Chevy truck that’s careening through cornfields at eighty miles an hour, half crazed on Mad Dog 20/20 and experiencing zero fear.
  • I’m at a garage sale, wondering what wonderful prize I’ll find.
  • I’m meeting my birth family for the first time at thirty-five years old. I’m crying on Eliza’s shoulder because I realize I came from trash.
  • I have eerie knowledge of things I shouldn’t. Because of this, I’m very seldom afraid or wholly surprised.
  • I’m reading psychology books, one after the other, until I break down one afternoon after realizing my mother was terribly unfair to me and I hated her for it.
  • I love my mother.
  • I’m in the bathtub, desperately hoping the water stays hot awhile longer so I can continue playing with my boats and action figures.
  • I’m terrified of failure, not of being poor. My worst fear is I’ll look back and see I’ve done it all wrong.
  • I’m an AutoZone manager.
  • I’m highly sexual and wonder what it’d be like to have no testicles so I could finally be free of the prison that is hormones.
  • I am music.
  • I’m in my Fury, it’s 1994, and I’m crossing Nebraska on my way from Iowa to California; the engine is purring, the bass is thumping, the sights are gorgeous. I am truly happy in this moment.
  • I’m a law student. I’m a cop. I signed up for badminton four times in college because I like the game. I’m an English major. I’m a writer. I’m failing math class because I can't understand anything. I have the credits for two degrees. I have no degree.
  • I’m on my Huffy, knobby tires kicking up dust on some dirt trail or other in CO, cares gone entirely.
  • I owe the IRS over thirty grand; the day I found out about this, I cried until I couldn’t anymore and hated everything about me. In that moment, I was truly unhappy; a failure.

I am experience, and that’s all I’ll ever be. The more I do and see and hear and love and hate, the more I become me. I’m the sum of everything I’ve done and wish to do. I’m changing, little by little, based on massive amounts of life experience. I’m a wise forty-year-old who still wishes to do unwise things.

And much, much, much more.


Anonymous said...

Flowers grow in trash dumps, too. Remember that.

Derek Odom said...

Thank you, Anon, they sure can and do. :)