The Waning Twenties

We were in Greensboro, North Carolina the weekend of the 14th. We drove all day on the 13th to reach it, and when we got there, realized how crappy our hotel was, we switched elsewhere. Fortunately, we ended up where Jennifer's conference was, so all she had to do was go downstairs.

I mostly sat in the hotel room watching TV, pretending to write and read. I brought a stack of books with me, knowing I would have almost nothing to do, but for some reason, I just couldn't get into them.

That's been the pattern of the last few weeks.

After a few poetic missteps twisted my proverbial ankle, I decided to withdraw some materials from elsewhere, including a place that had agreed to publish, but due to unforeseen events, was planning on sitting on the poems until they could manage to do something with them. After some thought, I took my poems back. Not to send them elsewhere, but to think about what I'm doing right now in general. The answer to that question came surprisingly today.

An English professor who has been incredibly kind to me through the application process, and even after I found out I wouldn't be joining the department, was in Media Services today doing some research.

"So what are you up to of late?" she asked.

"Not much...just...."

"Just hangin'?" she responded.

"Yeah," was all I could manage.

I feel so claustrophobic of late, like there's no way outside of this little sphere around me. I seem to be in my job until Jennifer is done (or near done). Everything I've tried to do positive with my life for the last few years has gone nowhere. Everything that has been positive has been luck, literally falling in my lap. Nothing I've really planned has worked out.

The reason Jennifer probably had so much trouble with the wedding was because I was involved in it!

So, that's fine. To an extent. Everything that has worked out for me has been luck and not planning. "Life is what happens," etc., right?

But it's not easy. Any bridge I see for getting off this island is burned as soon as I touch it.

I know. I'm whining. I'm young, right? Will being as I am now at 30 still be acceptable? 35? 40?

I know it's easy when you're young to believe that you're situation cannot improve. Camus, et. al. are of the opinion that one must determine for himself the things that make life worth living.

I've been wondering, in this vein, about Virginia Tech. I haven't been as surprised by the event as I thought I should be, but this in no way diminishes just how horrified I am at it.

This to me was a person who could see no forward progression to his life. He could see no reason for continuing to push the bolder up the hill. For him, life had no meaning left to it.

And in that, he found his end. In taking what others give so much meaning to and taking it away, he's defined his own existence. His end has justified, for him, his life, and as avoidable as the tragedy in Blacksburg was, I don't believe there was any escape for him from this mindset.

But many of us are reasonable. No, there's not always a light at the end of the tunnel, but one should keep searching and moving forward. "He not busy being born/Is busy dying."

However, what can one do to avoid the latter fate? I'm starting to consider that maybe everything I've been wanting to do since my teen years isn't going to happen. The dream of being the twill-coated, leather-patched professor sitting in his office discussing Modernist literature just might not happen.

During my time at Demosthenian, I was given an "award" of sorts. Basically, we made up a bunch of silly superlatives, and then we all voted for the person we thought deserved that superlative. One year, I won "Most Likely to Write the 'Great American Novel'," and I thought, "Great! I was going to do it anyways, so this will be a humorous footnote in a biography or obituary someday!"

And while I'm not counting myself out on this, I guess that I'm doubting it now. Part of being young is being invincible, and I'm starting to see through the armor I thought I had been wearing this whole time.

Jennifer and I were talking a few weeks ago about how it seems that everyone goes through this period in their lives where everything sucks and nothing goes well, but at the end of it you come out a mature adult, ready to move onto the next phase of life.

She believes I'm going through it right now. My only worry is that I won't end up where I want to be at the end of it.

And sometimes, this isn't a bad thing. But for so many people around me ("my generation" if you will) it seems like there is but one direction. I honestly don't know what I'm going to be doing with my life. If I don't end up in academia, am I going to end up being a lowly library worker forever? Am I going to follow my wife around to all her awesome jobs, finding something to do so that I don't end up sitting at home watching TV?

Then there's the threat of children. We both want to have children at some point, and while Jennifer will be well out of school before the period where we want children, at this rate, I may never accomplish anything I want to before I have to consider more than two people. This is incredibly frustrating and has caused me many sleepless nights of late. It's as if there is a deadline for us to have "good jobs" and if I'm not done with school by then, it's just plain tough. I'm stuck working the kind of job I'm in now, and at some point, I won't be able to get out.

It's not easy realizing these things. But what to do with it now?

I still want to be a writer when I grow up.


Professor Howdy said...
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Mrs.T said...

"The reason Jennifer probably had so much trouble with the wedding was because I was involved in it!"

I am going to smack you upside the head.