Retvrn to Childhood?

Fun fact about me: whenever I spot an unknown shadow on the road my mind often goes “spike strip!”…despite spike strips not being the sort of object one would expect to find randomly strewn about public highways. Why do I expect to see them all the time? Why, because I played entirely too much “Need for Speed” as a kid, that’s why! Racing games were always among my favorites during childhood, with “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” topping the list. My favorite entry in the series by far, and certainly the most memorable; indeed, it rates as one of the very few video games I ever played to completion. It was just that good.

Someone once even questioned whether it was good for me to play so much of that simulation of car-smashing and cop-crunching all day at the age of 11, but my mother had complete faith in me, telling my interlocutor “nah, it’ll be great preparation for the future”. And indeed, I found the entirety of Southern California very familiar when I visited for the first time at the age of 28 earlier this year; the rhythm of driving and navigating, even some of the geographic details, was exactly like the video games from childhood. “Need for Speed” and “Burnout” with a good strong dose of “SimCity”, not to mention about every movie and television show I’ve ever loved. As someone who was raised on cinema and computers, and always felt profoundly alienated from my local geography and society, I really should have figured out much earlier than I actually did that the beaches of California would be the perfect place for me to go.

They even have spike strips! Yes, this is a real installation at Capistrano Beach. It only punctures your tires if you go over it the wrong way, but it’s still the first time I’ve ever actually gone “spike strip!” and…there actually was one! 😮 

I wish you could have witnessed how I beamed when I saw that. Yes, I know I’m a total weirdo for taking such pleasure in seeing a spike strip, of all things, but I guess that’s the power of childhood nostalgia. Though when you go to a setting that feels like you’re inside the video games and movies you’ve known and loved all your life, only it’s real, how can you resist breaking out in an expression of happiness?

Cocoon

Perhaps that’s one reason why I feel so renewed when under the influence of the Pacific Ocean, or indeed venture into even the most peripheral parts of California’s sphere of influence: a childhood vision of what the world ought to be like, as if the decades spent between experiencing the simulacrum of the life I was effectively training myself for as an 11-year-old child and experiencing the real thing as a 28-year-old adult were some half-forgotten nightmare that never really existed.

I do feel that I got so off-track in life as I got older. The encrustation of misery that’s formed around my psyche in my teens and twenties makes me jaded and exhausted, menacing any prospect of a good youth, and doing a damn good job of destroying it, but though I may feel a hopeless lost cause at times I can’t help but think I might still have a chance. Certainly I have enough life left in me to raise my future daughter, the way I should have been raised, in the place I should have been raised: the beaches of Greater Los Angeles. She’ll have the chance to be everything I couldn’t be.

Parenthood is the closest thing there is in this world to experiencing childhood for yourself all over again. I can only imagine how powerful the vicarious nostalgia will be when I’m not only experiencing childhood over again in the way parents usually do, but also on top of that being in a place that makes me deeply nostalgic for my own childhood. Let alone introducing her to some of my childhood favorites such as “Need for Speed: Most Wanted”. I might not be prepared for it, but then again, the best and most rewarding challenges in life are those we don’t quite feel ready for, aren’t they?

I can’t help but wonder how much my vision for her, my platinum-blonde California beach baby, has to do with the ever-growing emptiness I sense in my soul, a hole that’s shaped like feminine companionship. Bereft of finding my dream girl, my plan is to make one.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that of late I’m experiencing more and more the symptoms of what the Jungians call “anima possession”, the surfacing of the feminine archetype in the unconscious mind (here’s one good write-up on the animus/anima concept in this sort of context). At least according to several online sources I’ve been able to find, as well as ChatGPT, one resolution for this encounter is to seek out, find, and form a healthy relationship with a real women who embodies the ideal qualities possessed by the anima. Most typically, this is a romantic and sexual relationship with an adult woman, but it need not be; at least according to ChatGPT a parental and familial relationship with a daughter can and sometimes does serve the same function.

My understanding (admittedly limited; I only came across the concept at all the other day) is the anima often reflects qualities that you possess in yourself, or at least wish you did, harboring some of your deepest and most suppressed desires. Aside from forming a relationship with a woman who reflects it (or getting some of those aspects from different women, who could even serve as role models), another way to resolve anima possession (or, perhaps it’d be better put as “manifestation”, since in my sort of case I haven’t succumbed to full-bore possession…yet) is to integrate qualities of the anima into yourself.

To Blond or not to Blond, that is the Question!

In particular, it’s slightly odd that I’d like a platinum-blonde beach baby, and one who presumably might be tan given all the healthy outdoor lifestyle in the Sun Belt, when I’m most sexually attracted to fair-skinned brunettes. And here’s where we loop back into childhood nostalgia: when I was a small child, full of energy, enthusiasm, and even happiness, I myself was blond! A rather light blond too, made even lighter by sun-kissed days at the pool (we, alas, lived nowhere near the ocean), tan and trim. Oh, and I had bright vivid green eyes.

Quite a few people in my family — well, at least the branches of it that have northern European ancestry — possessed those sort of traits as small children…only for the hair and eye color to darken with age (with one exception I know of who retained blonde hair into adulthood). As late as around age 5 my hair was a sandy blond but by the time I reached the age I was when “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” came out it had turned the dark brun color that it is today.

I’ve always liked my hair; it’s so wavy and shiny, yet so brunette, just like my biggest crush from history Emma, Lady Hamilton, who had the best hair ever. All my other historical-girl crushes and even my present-day crushes have that same sort of hair, the same kind I have as an adult.

But I can’t help but wonder if platinum blond wouldn’t look great on me too. It certainly did when I was a child; when my mother used to tell onlookers admiring me and asking how I got to looking like that that I was the offspring of a Greek god, it wasn’t exactly totally unbelievable to them. Could I look like that again? Considering how I want my child to look like that, could that be something that, deep down, I want for myself too? Do I really want to not just have, but be the platinum-blonde beach baby?

Emerald Eyes? And More?

I’ve even been taking steps toward getting a total beach makeover. For the first time in my life I’ve got my hair on a regimen of permanent waves, and they look great on me as I’m making my hair ever-curlier. The full-bore vision calls for me curling my hair until I practically have ringlets. And I do intend in any case to get on a tanning regimen; that way when I spend a lot of time outside in the sun after I relocate to California’s beaches (a far more clement climate to get sun exposure than where I am now) I won’t have any part of my body look super-pale.

I was originally thinking I’d get curled up, tanned up, but otherwise retain my adult appearance, but the thought crosses my mind in recent days that what I might really want is a full return to childhood: blond hair and green eyes. It would be possible for my hair to be totally platinumed, especially after I relocate; if you can’t get a blonding that looks great in Hollywood, where can you!?

As for my eye color? Although they’ve retained a lot of that childhood green (certainly far more than my hair has retained its childhood blond), they’re a lot browner than they were then. Which frankly has always depressed me whenever I’ve looked at them. Fortunately, like hair color, it’s possible to change your eye color, through the use of colored contacts. I’ve never even tried to wear contacts before, so for all I know I might have an awful reaction to them, but if I wanted to I could get myself contact lenses that restore my early-childhood vivid green color.

Heck, I might even be able to use them to see better. As a child after my vision experienced some marked deterioration (I can still pass driving tests, but my vision is somewhat impaired and has some weird problems, whereas it was perfect originally in early childhood) my family had me experiment with glasses, but none we tried quite worked, so we gave up (I was officially diagnosed with a slight astigmatism, which is notoriously difficult to work with). But for all I know a more skilled provider might be able to do a lot better for me than the local LensCrafters we went to 20 years ago.

Give me those Pearly Whites!

The last aspect of a return to childhood would be my teeth; mine were originally pretty much perfect, but then the lower half of my front-most tooth got chipped off when I fell down steps onto my face at school, kissing concrete. It’s had a temporary patch on it ever since, and only this year have I taken serious steps to get a porcelain veneer put on it. I would have one on it already, were it not for my teeth yellowing substantially, to the extent the combined effect has made me ashamed to smile for decades (doesn’t help either that I’ve always naturally smiled about as well as my fellow Italian-American Ron DeSantis does…which is to say, not very). Fortunately in the past few weeks I’ve found my teeth respond very well to bleach (the flip side of yellowing easily?), and they’re basically back to white.

Alas, the angle of my front teeth makes their visage uneven and frankly hideous, albeit only in subtle fashion, but one that really bugs me every time I look in a mirror and try to give a smile. I want the pearly-white perfect Hollywood smile, and the people at the aesthetic dentist’s office tell me that with the small degree of my angle issues it’ll be no problem to fix it with veneers. That would have the bonus of ensuring all four front teeth exactly match in color without having to redo it, as might be the case if I got one veneer for just the cracked tooth. Downside is that the money required to do that runs into the five digits. For all I know Invisalign might be a possibility, but that takes months or even years and combined with the cost of potentially redoing a veneer honestly won’t even be much cheaper. So I think I’ll bite the bullet and just do whatever is the most aesthetically effective way.

A Dream that’s Crazy, or Crazy enough to Work?

Once all that is accomplished I’ll be in good shape. Perhaps even good enough to return to childhood in another way. I honestly had the looks to be one of those kid models, and the performance talent to actually do the work, it’s just that my parents weren’t in an area with any opportunities nor did they know the first thing about getting their baby started in the business. Looking back on it, it would have been a fantastic thing, just perfect for me, and I intend to get my daughter on that track if at all possible. Might I really want to get not only future daughter but myself on the track too? Starting from zero in your thirties might sound crazy, and might be crazy for all I know, but perhaps I should dare to dream that I could still become a model again. Or something along those lines.

At least I know for sure that a person can begin a career in acting at my age; yes, every other person who moves to LA is a temporarily embarrassed future actor, but I’ve got better reason than most to think I might actually make it if I set my mind to it. It’d probably be good for me.

Another thing on the agenda would be musical training of some sort (particularly singing), as well as exploring jazz and (especially) hip-hop dancing further. Since childhood a persistent thought has been that I’d be pretty good in those rap videos. There’s always been a strange attraction, considering I ordinarily don’t even gravitate toward that part of the cultural spectrum; it’s even hereditary: my mother always wanted to be one of those white rappers. Heck, she chewed up those poetry classes in college and spat them out when it came to creative writing; she had real talent, and given how lyrical the rap genre is she might have been onto something. She just never got (or pursued) any real opportunities in that field. She was always told she couldn’t sing well, but the quality of her voice and the style of her singing was basically Billie Eilish before Billie Eilish was even born, so in hindsight she might have just been ahead of her time.

Anyway, I’ll pursue all of that in California. Weirdly enough, though I’d love for her to be so much like Billie (especially Billie’s voice), I don’t really picture future daughter or (should she ever appear) dream girl doing rap videos or hip-hop dancing in that field, just me. Ditto for my idea to try to get into outer-space startups in some capacity. Perhaps those are not qualities of my anima? Might even make sense, since these fields of endeavor have always struck me as having a more masculine vibe to them (in which case the animus might be the thing to watch out for…).

Conclusion

If anything in my life I should have listened to my instincts and my intuition a lot more than I even have as it is, and mine tell me to go to California and be the person I’ve always wanted to be, before it’s too late…and now, lately, they’re whispering to return to early-childhood me, that Greek deity by the pool in the summer sun, that model-worthy face and body. It might seem shallow, but I’ve been so indoctrinated to have high self-esteem I might have overlooked how much deficits in my physical appearance have been dragging me down.

My face losing its youthful volume, with what volume it had left starting to sink, and developing deeper lines sent me into a syndrome resembling clinical depression before I realized what was happening earlier this year and got myself $2500 worth of filler, making (that aspect of) me look better than I did when I was a teenager. End result? As my face’s volume was lifted, my mood was lifted with it, to a degree I found shocking at the time. My curls in my hair and the whitening in my teeth are having similarly salutatory effects on my mood on an everyday basis; turns out, looking in the mirror or at yourself and actually liking what you see makes you feel good. Huh. Yes, I looked good before, and that’s what I told myself for so many years, but what I’ve found out only as I approach 30 is the difference between “good” and “stunning” is still vast.

Perhaps I should even make it my mission, especially in the coming year, to not settle for just “good”, but instead try to make myself look as stunning as possible. It’s not lost on me today that the closer I restore myself to looking like an adult version of early-childhood me the better I feel. Maybe I really should listen to that instinct, that stray thought that rises half-formed from the intuition, as I play with my curls and wonder what it would be like to be blond again, to look down with vivid green eyes at a tan body in the absolute peak of fitness.

Perhaps, in the City of Dreams, with an adult edition of OG me, and a literal child by my side, I really can retvrn to childhood, and live my life over again the way it was meant to be lived…

 

Featured artwork for this post a pre-release promo image for “Need for Speed: Most Wanted”, featuring Lohralee Stutz (encapsulating a whole vibe, one I’m intensely nostalgic for…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *