Photo by Flickr user Andrew Ciscel
Mornings like this one, I wake up with a sense of inevitable dread. I’m afraid that all of my hopes will float by me unfulfilled, and then, what will happen to me? Will I curl up into a little ball? Will I become one of those bitter old men who walk the streets with loneliness like lead weights? And I lay in the warmth of my sheets, and think of how my day’s going to go once I cast off the duvet and throw on clothes, and from there I think of the next day month and week, and there’s something meaningless to it all, something flat and without pay-off. I'd rather just lay in bed for another fifteen minutes and sink into the shallow-oblivion of half sleep.
And I’m not suffering from some universal existential angst here. I’m not doubting that there’s any meaning to be had from life. What I’m doubting is that there’s any meaning left for me.
At the same time as I worry this, I also think: I’m being so clichéd, every other twenty-three year old with a touch of ambition feels as hopeless as I do. It will pass, or I'll get used to it, or I'll wake up tomorrow and bam everything will be okay.
Maybe that's worse, though. That everyone feels this way.
I’m living in a strange city. I don’t know which bars to go to, I don't know which cafes to go to - and when I do go somewhere, I'm alone - and shy. So I read a lot. I've been watching far too much of the HBO Original Series The Wire. And don’t get me wrong – I’ve met a lot of very nice people here. But there’s something missing in the day-to-day concourse of my life. My great friends – those people who know me well enough for me to be wholly open with them, who probably like me enough to read this blog on a semi-regular basis – they’re all far away from me. I hear their voices on the phone, I send them e-mails. But after a while, those long-distance calls make my present loneliness just seem a bit starker. I can remember a time when I knew everyone, when I could feel popular and successful, where I was a senior in a small college and I knew what to do.
So I feel caught adrift on something. Placeless.
And where do I go from here? My ambition leads me somewhere. But where? I know I want to write. But there’s a whole underground economy of wannabe writers, garnishing their egos with short stories and blog posts, who have just as much ambition and just as much talent as I do. I'd like to be able to sell some Alternative Weekly my squid facts for one-hundred dollars a pop. But the things I find interesting seem to bore other people. I feel foreign to a big bulk ot people. And there are plenty of people who have found themselves friendless in a big city. There are plenty of people who wake up and get scared that the next warm summer day they step out into they'll be twenty-four and not be allowed to have fun.
You’d hope that your dread, your angst, your deepest fears, weren’t so goddamned normal that they were terribly clichéd. I wish I could be feeling something horribly shocking and new. I want groundbreaking angst.
But at the same time as I dismiss this, it's there, and it's real, and it's hard to shake it. I wake up and don't have joy, only hunger. I work and what I do is desperate - like a person at the beach trying to scratch their name in the sand quickly before the next wave comes to wash it all away.
I want to run away to a new life. One where I can go into a cafe and everyone says hi and wants to talk about books. One where I can go read my short stories out loud at open mic nights. One where I can call my friends - and see them, in flesh, in real life - and talk with them in silly voices. And the hard part is that the life I imagine seems about as possible as me making friends with Mark Twain; which I want to do, by the way.