Real World 2.0
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be about a thousand things each day. At 9 am I wanted to be a veterinarian, and by 4 pm, a hairdresser (I practiced cutting the hair off of my Barbie who I ultimately threw into the fire … this might have been a good time to start therapy…). I felt limitless. I could be anything I wanted to be.
A lot has changed over the past few months. I moved into an apartment, and I have a job where people continue to congratulate me on having a job. (Is it written on my face that I’m an English major, I don’t know…).
It wasn’t a huge, sweeping move. But it takes great courage, I think, to go anywhere new, to separate yourself from what you’ve once known and who you once were.
Do I excel at the adult life? …No. I mean, I’m not exactly street-smart (I got lost in Exeter this summer and I’ve only lived here for fifteen years…) and unless there is a company out there that is looking to hire the world’s most indecisive person, I have to learn to put myself on a strict budget (which will start tomorrow, I swear…). Because wait, like has anyone ever realized how expensive everything is? It’s so hard to find that balance between my need for pickles/coffee/heat and dealing with my alter-ego who thinks she’s Kim Kardashian and will drop half a week’s paycheck at the bar.
It’s so, so terrifying to be on my own. And it’s so, so great.
On my list of things that I don’t know to handle - somewhere between my feelings and geometry - is “the future.” I even have to put “the future” in quotations because I seriously feel a case of hives coming on thinking about all of the career/relationship/every other kind of question that I’ll have no idea how to answer that will be asked on Thanksgiving by my much more stable family (but to quote Hemingway, “Thank God for wine”) ((actually I’m not sure he ever said it but I know he was thinking it/I’ll be drinking it…)). I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now. Somebody guide me through my life. Please pass the rolls…
There has never been a time for me when “the future” has been concrete, something that has been without quotation marks. The things I want are often the things that I know in my heart scare me the most, and it’s so hard for me to form a solid idea or goal of where I can see myself ending up. I can’t even choose between Ben & Jerry flavors; how am I supposed to make some of these major, life-altering decisions? Why is everyone else so good at it? Was there a class for this that I slept through?
Even now, I still feel like I change a million times over the course of the day. But I will admit, there is a part of me that missed the routine - needed it even - after school ended, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing (well, even less than I do now); there were days I would wake up and think to myself: “I can do whatever I want,” and other days when I would stare at the ceiling/cry/think to myself: “MY LIFE IS OVER.”
But there is also this part of me that is feeling more anxious than I ever have, like restlessness is in my veins, and every time I see a plane fly above me, my heart is right up and off there with it. I think it’s okay to feel a little of both, though. To want to be a soccer mom one day, and then want to just drive to Logan airport, close your eyes and pick out a destination the next. To be somewhere in between.
The younger version of me understood this so much more than I did, and I would give anything now to be the way she was then, even if only for a second. She was so self-assured and she didn’t doubt anything, and I hope somewhere, there is a part of me that won’t ever outgrow her. Because I think everything we truly want is just sitting right in front of us, waiting for us to be brave enough to take it, to be brave enough to not even think twice about taking it.
In A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (which was almost painful to read because it was that beautiful and relatable), there was a character, Sasha, who reminded me a lot of myself (as in she worked at a front desk and was angst-ridden). There is a scene where she fastens together a loop on a wire and hangs it on her window, and at just the right moment, when it’s ready, the sun drops into it, and she holds it in her hands. “See?” she says. “It’s mine.”