Day 272: "Same-Same-but-Different"

If you have ever spent time in Asia as a tourist, you know the widespread hilarity that is "Same-Same-but-Different." Indeed, there is nothing more charming in this world than meeting someone who can commiserate with you about Same-Same-but-Different, and its brilliance.

You have heard us wax on about this phrase before. Like when we were in Asian countries dealing first-hand with the idiocy of actually speaking these words, and then feeling envious of the tourists who had Same Same But Different t-shirts and then following them to buy them. However, it took coming home to California for me to understand the deeper levels of the already evident deepness encompassed by this phrase.

Recently, I have decided that most every conversation I have boils down to some version of Same Same But Different. In short, I am hung up on my life, and I apparently get a great kick out of talking about how things don't change...but do...sort of. It's all very subtle. For instance, this happened when Lara and I arrived in the states and marveled at the fact that our home lives didn't seem to have changed much since we left back in April; this happened when I fought with Garrett at the wedding about how we all seemed the same as we did in college (he said we were different); and this happened when I drove home tonight.

Driving in Berkeley, for me, is the most Same Same But Different that things can get. For the nine years (seven days short of) that I have had my driver's license, life in Berkeley has been represented by the same late-night drive from Northside to Southside. There are few things more emotional and evocative-of-Claire's-life than making this drive. And it is one of the things I look forward to most about coming home.

That's not to say that every memory on this drive is a wonderful one, because there are some highly crappy ones on this little yesterday's memories* lane of mine. Like the place where the policewoman stopped us graduation night because there were too many people in the car on the way to Kristi's house, or the place where that particular ex-boyfriend lived, or the stoplight where the crazy girl on the lacrosse team peed in the Jamba Juice cup and threw it out the bus window.

And then there are the fantastic memories that make me feel like the luckiest person alive. We all have them. Like sneaking past the homeless man who lives on stage into the Greek Theater the night before we graduated from high school to see where we would be walking. Or the Safeway where we went to return the chips (you can return food to Safeway that you don't want, as long as it is unopened) only to be rejected because they were wet from the frozen juice (which we also wanted to return, but we didn't keep it frozen enough apparently).

And some of the places I pass hold both memories at the same time. Like Berkeley High School, where I remember the delight of getting out of classes as a Senior because arsons kept setting the place on fire at the same time as I remember the misery of cleaning out the dead cats in my biology teacher's room to get a better grade. Or Cafe Roma, where most important life discussions have either been had or rehashed.

But there's a funny, and great, thing about most memories. A lot of the times, it's happy to remember the happy ones, and it's also happy to remember the crap ones. Because with the crap ones, I get to think about all that has happened in the years since and how lucky I am that each year has taken me forward.

Today, I reconnected with someone I have not spoken to in many years. We were born on the same day and in the same hospital. She is the only person I have attended every school of my life with. But you know, things happen, and we fell out of touch. As life would have it, just a few minutes ago I read a great line she wrote at the end of her email to me, acknowledging the strangeness of everything: "It's weird to be living our futures, no?"

Yes. Yes it is.

All that to say, Happy Birthday Lara. You're basically the Same Same but Different as when I first met you, and we hung a new red bikini from the freshman dorm ceiling as your birthday present. Or maybe that wasn't you. It's hard to remember after all these years.

*Yesterday's Memories is the name of the grandmother's favorite thrift store in Ohio. You know some old lady thought they were brilliant when they came up with that one.

1 comment:

lawyer lana said...

we hung the red bikini for mari. i think that was your idea claire. like, "let's hang it from the ceiling"... then we said, confused but motivated, "oh.. okay, yeah, that'll work...."

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