“What do you want to do?”
I lied. Constantly. To myself, to them. My parents, my teachers, my friends, strangers. Everyone I met, whether I had to make awkward small talk with them or if I was having an actual real-life conversation about hopes and dreams and the badthoughtsdoubtsfears that play endlessly on repeat, a vicious cycle that started who knows when? Not me. I chose a career that sounded smart and fascinating 7 years ago and stuck with it even though somewhere along the way something shifted, and it didn’t feel right anymore, but what else am I gonna do? Lies.
I knew what I really wanted, but oh, there it is again.
An endless cycle.
So, I did what everyone else told me to because independence and freedom are too much for me, a burdensome anvil that sits heavily on my chest and crushes my ability to make good decisions. The things I want aren’t good decisions. Smart decisions—logical decisions—are good decisions. And everything else is just nothing.
I went to a great school and studied something interesting and science-y because I need to make money not happiness, and it was the smart choice. The good choice. And every day, everything felt so far away. I passed hundreds of faces, thousands even, on the way to classes I hated, and they were all the same face blurred into one. Voices sounded waterlogged, droning on and on in a monotonous buzz until even the skies outside seemed drained. Everything was so empty and so fake. I was far away from life, isolated in a cold room on the third floor in a dorm that sat across from the bar district where every other tortured college student liked to go get wasted and puke their guts out and ride away blacked out in an ambulance Thursday through Saturday.
Sometimes, I wished I was them. Gig ‘em.
I gave up on that me. I left her behind somewhere, and that was the first right choice I made.
The first right choice.
But, nothing is ever simple, is it? There are never any clear answers to the questions life asks.
Everything here is so different, either from my home or my other school, and for the second time in a year that’s gone on too long, I’ve uprooted myself and ended up somewhere strange. Somehow though, I don’t mind nearly as much this time around. Maybe because I’m finally where I wanted to be from the very beginning. Maybe because I try to lie to myself a little less now. Or maybe because life still feels like a dream, like laying at the bottom of a dark and still ocean, looking up towards a light that never reaches far down enough.
I love my classes. Even when time drags on and my assignments seem totally pointless, I’m more than happy to do them. It’s about 10am on a sunny day with clear blue skies spanning forever. No mountains break the skyline into craggy lines nor am I surrounded by too much green. The trees are barren of their leaves, there are a few puddles dotting the uneven sidewalks here and there, and the wind feels icy-sharp.
The classroom is too warm for my layers when I finally slump into my desk. Front of the room, stage right, 3 feet away from the podium. I’m tired and stiff from power-walking across campus to try and get out of the cold as much as to not be late, but my mind is ready for whatever mind-blowing revelation I have today. Attendance counts in Dr. J’s class.
And, just like every other Tuesday and Thursday this semester, people trickle in slowly, Dr. J walks in, gets situated, and then proceeds to weave a web of paradigm-shifting discussion over whatever literary work we’re discussing at the time. It’s mentally exhausting having my perspective of the universe and reality itself reorganized twice a week every week, but this is the kind of torture I enjoy.
There’s a particular exchange between two characters I remember from then:
ESTRAGON. I can’t go on like this.
VLADIMIR. That’s what you think.
ESTRAGON. If we parted? That might be better for us.
VLADIMIR. We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow. [Pause.] Unless Godot comes.
ESTRAGON. And if he comes?
VLADIMIR. We’ll be saved.
And then just a few lines later:
VLADIMIR. Well? Shall we go?
ESTRAGON. Yes, let’s go.
[They do not move.]
Whether I’m Vladimir or Estragon or another character playing a different part, I can’t say with certainty. But I sat there in class thinking about this, and then later I sat in my room late at night thinking about it again, and I went, Oh, I’m waiting for Godot too.