Nineteen Years Later

Whether or not I like it, the Harry Potter books and movies have been a significant part of my life since my early teens. I got into the series later than many of my friends; considering the number of people I've had the chance to discuss Harry Potter with, I got into the series much later than most people. However, I was all caught up by the time book six came out so I was there, with everyone else, to experience the magic of waiting for a release and reading the newly released book on day 1. Don't even get me started on the number of fan-fictions I read before book seven came out. Let's just say it's an uncomfortably large number. The book ends at a point of time that marks nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, with Harry's child getting ready for his first day at Hogwarts. That day was September 1st, 2017. That part of the world that still hangs on to Harry Potter celebrated this in a hundred different ways. That said, this post isn't about Harry Potter. In fact, this is like every other post of mine -- about nothing in particular.

This day, to the six-year-old me, would have been nineteen years later.  I would be lying if I said I remember what it was like back then. What I can say with certainty is that to the six-year-old me, nineteen years later looked nothing like what it actually ended up looking like. I'm in a country I hadn't figured out much about back then. I'm employed doing things that weren't invented when I was six. The company I work for was four years old when I was six. Due to the fact that our body's bone cells are constantly replacing themselves, every twelve years, the human body gets a completely new skeleton. Akin to that, nineteen years later, I'm living a life that a six-year-old me was not even aware of. If I met that kid on the road today, I would not recognize him. That kid may not find me interesting or cool, or worth noticing even.

A few years pass, and that six-year-old is a teenager. The life that I live today has some vague similarities to what the teenager had in mind. The kid had learned to use a computer, knew what software engineering was, and just because he knew Bill Gates and Microsoft, he wanted to become a Computer Engineer. The kid made his dad's job easier by teaching him to use Excel Sheets and amazed his mother by looking up grammar rules on the internet. They, however, did not like the fact that he was deeming the phone unusable while he used the dial up connection to leave scraps to his friends on Orkut (what an archaic sequence of words!). To that kid, nineteen years later was a life in America. Because he had figured thanks to his cousin that one could go to this fantasy land that is America for higher studies. What's sadly not true is that the teenager believed that nineteen years later, he'd be a few inches taller than what I am today. Sorry to have disappointed you. Also, that girl you were with? Nope, not anymore.

A few years pass -- late teens. College. New friends. America seems more real. Another girl -- only this time, I know for sure, she does too. To this young lad, nineteen years later was a life that had no geographical constraints like the teenager had. Somewhere with a job and a roof over the head. Nineteen years didn't seem like a long term to plan for. The fact that nineteen years and some chump change was all that he had seen in his entire life notwithstanding. Perhaps all teenage dreams follow the theme of Chekov's 'Lottery Ticket'.

A few years and a few thousand miles later, some of the dreams come true. First flight, second, third, and even the tenth soon followed. Grad school, not higher studies. Starbucks. English with an American accent. An American education. Large classrooms. Cars. National Parks. Arizona sun. The west coast. These things featured in none of the nineteen-year plans. The twelve-year human skeleton cycle I'd mentioned starts to look very believable. For this young man in his early twenties, nineteen years later involves a lot of unknowns. This young man doesn't know which city to dream about or which job. He doesn't know who is going to be around. He's been told who isn't.

A few more years later, another new city. New friends, on and off. Summer is a thing to look forward to, and not just a label. It actually looks different from the other times of the year. Lots of new music. Beer. Trivia nights. Hiking. The six-year-old kid didn't know hiking was a thing, neither did the teenager. The undergrad would have laughed if he thought the future involved reading more books in a day than the number of people he'd talk to. The grad student thanks time for keeping him afloat and carrying him off to the shore. This exercise was more for me than it was for you to read. Through this, I now know that none of the nineteen-year dreams resembled the reality when the day actually came by.

For this guy, nineteen years later looks no different than today. Perhaps some more certainty would be nice.