Wed, 14 Oct 2009 01:50:00 +0000

First off, my name is Alvin.

Secondly, my cousin says I look like Snoopy.

And, lastly, my girlfriend Kristen points out that I have a daily “costume” like SpongeBob or Doug. Every day, I wear a solid shirt with a Mr. Rogers cardigan and blue jeans.

Face it: I’d make a good cartoon character.

But Kristen and I have also discussed how I live in a classic Hugh Grant movie: On our first date, we met late night at Washington Square Arch, got kicked out of the library and ended up on a New York bench for a deep conversation. Oh, and the spontaneous kiss.

I think we all see our own lives as TV shows or movies, to a certain extent, because we recognize the narratives in our lives — and that’s crucial. It reminds us that we are on a journey. It helps us get through the tough or monotonous moments. I write this column, partly, to force myself to digest my narrative.

But I’m realizing that, once you start a nine-to-five job, narratives are harder to come by. It gets increasingly harder to remind yourself of the journey because day-to-day life is sometimes a bit too real. It’s how it is with me — the “Alvin Show” is slumping.

Last weekend, though, Kristen and I found ourselves in a good episode.

We went to a restaurant, sat across from each other at a small table and ate breads, cheeses and soups. We talked about life as we smiled excessively at each other.

Later that night, we walked around in Times Square like tourists, even though I live five minutes away.

Then we ran into to the crying Hello Kitty fountain and took pictures of ourselves mimicking the tears.

Finally, we walked up to Serendipity 3 for some frozen hot chocolate, where we were supposed to end this perfect episode. It would’ve been a great montage set to the music of Coldplay.

But once we got there, there was a 90 minute wait. Hugh Grant wouldn’t have to wait. Snoopy wouldn’t, either. But we did — and we didn’t have 90 minutes to do so. The perfect ending was ruined.

But perfect stories are, well, too perfect.

I remember the first time I truly felt depressed, I thought I could quickly take steps to get over it, like on TV — but then I realized I had to suffer through the quiet moments alone before bed; I realized the steps were hard to take.

After I graduated, I realized that the excitement and hope of being young is offset by things like getting health insurance since I’m getting old.

I accept all of that. It’s part of the journey. But I am tempted to want finality and certainty.

Because of that, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing only about stories that are complete. In daily life, I seek narratives that have endings — seems better that way. And recently, my life has been filled with uncertainties, and that had made me incredibly anxious. So that may be why I am not seeing the narrative I want to see.

In fact, I once told Kristen that I didn’t write much about our relationship because the dramatic arc wasn’t complete. I don't want it to be over or complete. I want it to be continuous.

But avoiding incomplete stories leaves us with inauthentic stories that are forced to be complete. And that's not beautiful.

Sometimes it’s hard to trust that things will be OK, especially when things weren’t OK in the past. But I’m slowly finding beauty in the incomplete, the imperfect and the unsure.

And with this insight, I’m realizing that the most continuously incomplete thing about life is our knowledge of it.

I recently figured out that "Life of Alvin” has been my exploration of that.