An Argument: Let Time Dictate Your Life

Being snowed in alone is the ripest kind of bittersweet. I really hate being alone sometimes but ultimately it really reconnects me with how I’m feeling and who I am at this certain point in time. And, since I don’t really know what to make of life recently, today was very much needed.

I mostly sat with a bath bomb tucked underwater while reading a book I’ve had listed on Goodreads for 10 months, listening to Old Money by Lana Del Rey and staring at the snow falling outside from the big window in my room. All I’ve eaten is seven Dove chocolates. I haven’t brushed my teeth.

I’ve been meaning to make a big post about a big decision I’ve finally made, but it doesn’t feel that monumental. I thought about it yesterday, and everything I would miss, the snow, the solitude, the familiarity, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten to realizing the weight of what I’ve actually done. And if you know me, everything is a big deal. Which is why I’m confused.

I guess the closest I’ve gotten to making a big revelation was when I was emptying the bath and I made a post on Instagram of a few photos I’ve taken during great moments of 2017. A panoramic view of York Beach in Maine, Sylvan Esso during my favorite song of theirs in Brooklyn, walking down the street in Georgetown. And I started to think about how everyone will collectively agree that 2017 sucked. And it really did! In many ways. 2016 for me was arguably so much worse emotionally, but in 2017 I felt nothing. This year was a flatline, with summer slightly elevated through all of my travels and my one period of emotional stimulation.

In the back of my head when I catalog time, I always hear my friend Emily saying “Time is fake as shit.” As much as that is true, and empowering in a lot of senses, time still dictates much of our lives. I’m still in school. Semesters and due dates circulate around me for nine months out of the year. Breaks have beginnings and endings. My work shifts are in thirty minute or hour intervals. Birthdays only last twenty-four hours, and then what are you supposed to feel.

Time is fake as shit but it’s here and we have to make something of it within the confines that society created. For me, I know 2018 will be very different from 2017. With a whole new set of people, thousands of people, in a new place that I’ve always known existed and have been before. Familiar but unfamiliar. New routines, new walking routes, new starts and endings. Who knows where I will be working in the summer? Who I’ll meet in my economics class? Where I’ll live, where I’ll travel to? I’ll have a good idea of where (probably Shoprite, probably someone from a town thirty minutes away from me who knows my cousin, on campus, and somewhere within driving distance) but within those confines, there are still options.

So if time ever gets you down like it has to me, just remember there are options. Maybe your 2018 will look just about the same as 2017. Maybe you just realized your entire life is a flatline. Maybe you realized that you need a flatline year. Whatever it is, make a new year’s resolution, because they matter. And if you don’t stick to it, doing it for however long you did is still a change. Predictions can be accurate but not precise (tbt to high school science class).

Here is my callout post: Make a change. Make a big deal about that change. Put glitter on your face on December 31st. Wipe it clean on January 1st when you get out of bed, and feel like a different person, because it’s 2018 and you are allowed to.

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A Break From Myself

I fall in love a little bit with everywhere I go. In Burlington, I romanticized Church Street, and recalled lines of Cold Pastoral while overlooking the lake, listening to woodsy music and thinking about how the city is overpopulated and filled with Jeeps in traffic for a reason. In Manhattan, I romanticized the beaten subway steps and the feeling when you step out of Grand Central to crystalline buildings bigger than the sky.

And it’s usually the idea of the place that I fall in love with. Wearing my Free People dresses and Frye boots while flitting from gastropubs to late-night coffeehouses with my liberal friends that like skiing and Beat poetry; that was the Burlington idea. But so far Burlington has just been the overwhelming taste (not even smell) of marijuana mixed with cold nights and the gross feet scent that emits from many a ripped Birkenstock. I have to search for diversity. I have to search for people who actually want to talk about real stuff and not just their “I wish I was born in the 1960s and went to Woodstock” narratives. Because a lot of Burlington people want to save the world, but how are they supposed to do that from all the way up here? They are drifting.

I don’t have to like Burlington. I don’t have to wake up in the morning and tell myself to give it a chance, give it a semester, give it two. I’m not proud of my school, I’m not happy here. I owe no one my do’s or do nots. This is simply the way it is.

Last Tuesday night, the cheapest deal on a flight was Burlington to Dulles. I felt like Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants, leaving with no notice besides a voicemail left for her mother in their fifth-floor walk up in Chinatown. And I kind of was. I told my mom I was leaving only the night before, when I was dehydrated and exhausted from trying to work out at the gym. She took it well, surprisingly, and the next day, I was off. A beautiful ruby blended into a Syracuse orange against the backdrop of the Green Mountains, and it almost made me love Burlington. Maybe if I lived in a cloud.

The drive on 495 into the city was amazing, especially with everything lit up on a Friday night. After a failed attempt at entering my Bloomingdale Airbnb, I ended up freaked out and uncomfortable in the The Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Foggy Bottom. They took pity on me and gave me a discounted room and I have never been more thankful. I fell asleep with a terrycloth robe on at two a.m., a huge print of George Washington above my headboard. I woke up significantly less terrified and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. It was exactly as I had seen it in Iron Jawed Angels, My Date With the President’s Daughter (seeing the Lincoln Memorial was really cool for me), and all of the American history non-fiction picture books I took out from the library when I was ten.

I realized how much I missed the fast paced life of cities, even in Connecticut. My small hometown was busier than Burlington could ever be. Everyone here was wearing business casual getups with sensible shoes, hopping on the G2 heading east or walking straight down 16th street without looking up from their phone once. And nobody smiled at you walking down the street. It was like New York, except dotted with mock duomos and rotundas and many more embassies.

“People thought that New Yorkers were rude, but really they were just leaving you to your own stuff. It was respectful! In a city with so many people, a New Yorker would always pretend not to see you when you didn’t want to be seen,” (Modern Lovers, Emma Straub)

I saw Georgetown at night surrounded by frat boys and drunk girls and policemen pedaling very fast on bicycles. The Georgetown grad in my Uber took my compliment of “Georgetown is like Yale on steroids” with sincere thanks because he was waitlisted there. The neighborhood of Georgetown is like Boston and Brooklyn getting married and having a more suburban baby. I was surrounded by cute babies in expensive clothing and attractive couples on walking dates.

I swam in the George Washington University Mount Vernon campus’ pool and saw another vibrant sunset rivaling the neon string piece at the Renwick gallery. I was shoved, sweaty, with Pear vodka into a residence hall basement kitchen with guys who played the entirety of Coloring Book. I was shoved into the Vex with the same people to walk and jump and scream down the street to the crepe place that doesn’t close until 4 a.m. I was shoved into realizing what I wanted my college experience to be like, surrounded by future politicians and current ones and not being able to see the sun because of tall buildings and living in a place where everyone is a leader, where leadership is cool, where I could experience so many different things in one day.

Longing for the corner of 16th and Corcoran has already kicked in. I miss the Gregorian chant. I miss my mildly attractive Airbnb man. I miss all of the windows open with city noise coming from five stories below. It sounds dramatic, but I miss being excited to wake up.