This is the sixth sending of our penpal newsletter, Letters to J.
There’s no other way to put it, the past month — and the ongoing reality for Black folks — was deeply saddening.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee and countless others should still be alive. Their murders reveal, many times over, that prejudice and racism towards Black people is ever-pervasive in America. And we have a long way to go in reversing that.
Justin and I put these letters on pause to instead read, listen, donate, and hold space. The topic also doesn’t fade once it does from Twitter’s Trending section — we’re still educating ourselves and here’s a few entries and resources that particularly impacted us:
(Justin ⇒ Jasdev, 6/29/20)
So, one of my big points of embarrassment is that it’s been over a year since I’ve written on my personal newsletter. You prompted me to find something old and embarrassing, and dutifully I dove into the abysses of 2016 Justin’s myopia.
Here’s a fun one that caught my eye, from the spring of 2017. It’s a short one, and certainly presaged 2020’s Justin current capsule wardrobe — much to my partner’s chagrin, as she is the laundry-master of the household, I’m down to around twenty hangers’ worth of clothes and a smattering of not-so-neatly arranged tees and shorts.
The photo, though, is what keeps me thinking a bit:
It is perhaps the most boring photo in the world, and yet it spawns a flood of memories:
- I see in the background my cocktail collection at near-peak levels of my cocktail mania. I topped out at ~sixty bottles in 2016, and slowly worked my way down, but now of course in the Quarantine Era it is accumulating again. (Friends, let me know if you can figure out anything fun to do with Cynar!)
- I see my trusty grey IKEA picnic table, which after three tours of duty as makeshift apartment dining table has finally secured its place as an actual outdoor picnic table in the backyard.
- I see clothes! I see the LaCoste fair isle sweater that I asked my parents for one year for Christmas and proceeded to wear a total of five times ever (sorry, Mom — it’s a lovely sweater, but it turns out I look awful in shawls). I see a pair of OCBDs that I outgrew once I decided to start lifting weights for once in my life. I see a bright yellow anorak that I must have thrown out because I am an idiot, because just last week I thought I could use an anorak.
- And, of course, I think about that gorgeous weird little apartment that I can’t help but love, even though I ended a relationship in it, and even I spent two years after moving out giving it a two-block berth (just in case, you know?)
But the kicker to all of this is that I have absolutely no memory of any of this. No memory of writing the email; no memory of taking the picture; no memory of giving these clothes away. (To wit, I spent an hour last month digging through my clothes to try in vain to find that lime-and-blue tie.). I strain to think of what the apartment would have looked like just out of frame — my desk would be to the left, but I can’t remember what was on that bookshelf, nor how we arranged the living room or what I might have been making for dinner.
I am, perhaps, more concerned than your average citizen about my long-term memory. My friends and family all rightfully tease me, but there’s something a little shocking about how you can Ship-of-Theseus yourself away completely in a matter of mere years. You shared with me a (now-deleted, sorry readers) embarrassing tweet from 2013 Justin a few weeks back and I was mortified: mortified, sure, at the juvenilia I had espoused within it but more mortified that I couldn’t remember the tweet at all, couldn’t remember the version of my flesh that had written and sent it.
This has benefits, sure: I completely forgot about the webcomic that I was obsessed with at the time, and now I get to spend this coming weekend re-reading it.
But am I alone in this? Are you able to pretty strongly remember all of your past selves, or do you find yourself shocked every now and then at your personal lacunae?