Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Runaway

Thursday at work, I was sitting at my desk chatting with a couple of my new co-workers.    Most of whom, are in their mid-late twenties or even their early 30s.   They were curious to see how I, a newly minted college grad, was grappling with the transition from college to the working world.    Instead of a typical, "It's fine, thank you"  (which probably would have been the more appropriate choice)   I made some confessions.  "Actually, the other day, I was sitting at my desk, staring at the 4:55 on the clock, willing the seconds to pass until it turned to five and a terrifying thought occurred to me.  Oh my God, what if this my whole life?   Chained to a desk, counting the minutes until five, except instead of 22, I'm 52, and instead of coming home to my cat I'll be coming home to a demanding family?"     My coworkers laughed, and actually assured me they have felt the same way at various stages of their transition periods, and that it will get better.   But really, isn't that a valid question? Why, as intelligent, educated people do we elect to spend our lives this way?

Not to get all hippie on you, but it isn't lost on me that most of my life has been about preparing--like a good little worker bee drone.    In elementary school it was all about being invited to take algebra instead of pre-algebra in 7th grade, which in turn would put you on the fast track to the AP classes in high school, which in turn would ensure you would get into a good college, which obviously guaranteed you would have a good job and subsequently a husband, 2.4 kids, a collie, and a Mercedes.   Nothing was presented as an end in itself--instead everything was just another rung on the ladder.   I hope that somewhere along the way I have begun to appreciate things as their own ends, but that doesn't keep me from sometimes feeling short of breath and panicky when I realize how similar I am to a hamster on one of those stupid wheels.  In college I encountered this frantic realization most of the time when I was driving (and actually sometimes on the treadmill)  and I comforted myself by thinking, "I could run away.  I could drive and drive until I ran out of gas, then keep driving, and no one would ever find me.  I could start a totally new life."  I pictured myself going to Santa Fe, working in a cantina where cattle ranchers came to drink away their troubles.  Or in New York, living in SoHo, writing the newest off broadway smash.  But then these happy thoughts were always eclipsed by how worried my parents would be or how I owed it to myself to finish the education I had (quite literally) worked at since elementary school, or how most likely the scenario would end with me dead and eaten by stray dogs in a heap of trash on the side of the road instead of in success.  But somehow, as ludicrous and unlikely as the whole scenario is, the option was a comfort.

Now?   I don't really even have the option.   I have a car payment, rent, insurance--not to mention 3 lives (don't judge that it's only a couple plants and a kitty, you have to start somewhere) that directly depend on me for their survival.  I no longer have an opt out clause.   I can't decide I want to be a writer/painter/astronaut/actress and just opt out to follow my dream and chase my windmills in the sky.   I'm trapped.   

So maybe that isn't a bad thing.   As I write this  I am sitting in my OWN apartment with an incredible view of the skyline and come the 15th, I will enjoy my very first paycheck on my job that I had coveted for so long.  But nothing seems to ever turn out like you thought it would.   When I was a kid what I wanted the most about being an adult was the freedom and now, that I'm well on my way to being an adult, I realize that there is very very little freedom in the whole equation.  Like, I can't stay up all night and eat ice cream and chocolate syrup because, I have work in the morning and gee, chocolate and ice cream isn't on my diet right now.   Last night I went to bed, on a Friday, at 10pm, simply because I was too tired to keep going on much past that.   The Annie at age 16 who used to stay up until 3 am, and dreamed of throwing parties AS SOON as she had her own apartment, would kick my lame, adult ass.   

1 comment:

  1. Hey Annie,

    Congrats on graduating and the new job...and hope you are doing good!

    My Mom told me to check out your blog; she digs it! You're a great writer!!! Keep it up and I will tell Jen to start reading it too.

    Specific to this blog; it only gets better from here out, trust me. Just remember that we work to live and not vice versa!!!

    Hope to see you guys soon!

    Cuz Ryan