My generation loves a thorough risk assessment. We’re terrified. Our whole lives were dictated by toeing the 'Hard Work Pays Off’ line, and then…we graduated. We have to keep working hard - and the only reward we get is a cheque, at best. Retail, teaching, law school, or investment banking are all crushing our skull into the earth telling us to be grateful. A series of shit we never cared for is suddenly taking up most of our time. But bills need to get paid and we have to keep ourselves busy while we wait for Real Life to hopefully start. It does - right? One day, we will get to do what we want and be happy?
When you have little control over your career, you try and control everything else in your life. Especially as a woman, when you’ve been told that a successful career is the only way you can guarantee some security, and that guarantee is taken away from you, you approach relationships with a formidable caution.
I grew up watching two people I call my parents chipping away at each other. I saw how two good people don’t necessarily make for a good marriage and I refused to fall into the trap my parents did. I still refuse. They’re sadistically still together, and I still have to play the mediator, so I refused to settle with relationships. As far as I was concerned, a Samoyed and a trip to the sperm bank would’ve been a good enough life plan.
Over-cautious, disheartened, exasperated and discouraged. The ills of this generation are hard to avoid. Speak to any of us, and you’ll hear it pungent in our words, our attitudes. And yet we still find the energy to foster relationships with strangers thousands of miles away. Whether its on twitter, tumblr or instagram, we have found it within ourselves to befriend people who we owe nothing to. Mutuals can mean anything from a silent follow back to uplifting, caring comments. We engage in conversations about things that are both frivolous and deep, we send each other DM’s pouring our hearts out to each other. Online as it may be, the company we keep can lead to very real emotions.
For me, it led to the realest thing in my life. You ever met someone that makes you so happy that you think they’re a figment of your imagination? A year and a half ago, I followed back someone who would become my best friend. Three months later I picked him up from the airport in Toronto and in a matter of days, knew I was in love with him. You see, I knew way before then, but The World kept telling me I needed to meet him first. Unless you didn’t figure out the catch, we both live in different countries because the Lord giveth and US immigration taketh away. Me and my best friend have to go from elated drunken-love joy to heart-wrenching grief every few months. My anxiety attacks have been at full force these past few weeks because we’re about to get further away, with a time difference that will stress the distance all the more. I’ve been trying to secure a job or an internship that will help me stay in New York and all I want to write in these cover letters is “PLEASE JUST LET ME BE WITH HIM WE DESERVE TO BE BY EACH OTHER I CAN DO THE JOB PLEASE JUST PLEASE I’M BEGGING YOU DON’T MAKE ME GET ON THAT PLANE”.
Airports sicken me. Flight confirmations make me feel dizzy. Customs and security make my brain go numb. I don’t know how many airport staff have seen me with my cheeks wet, shaking hands and pale complexion. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to find the strength to get out of bed. I zone out on public transport, staring into a distance, my mind shutting down from thinking. I walk down the street with my hands in my pockets, digging my nails into my palms because he’s not there to hold them. I sleep on one side of the bed because for a brief second when I wake up I hope he is next to me. More than anything, I’m terrified that we aren’t together because there’s going to come a day when we won’t have enough time. There never seems to be enough time. If we’re not counting down the days to see each other, we’re thinking of the looming deadline when we’re apart again. The pain is heavy in my stomach but nothing compares to the mammoth of happiness in my heart. Holding and kissing someones face, having them look at you and feel the safest you ever have is all I’ve ever wanted and I’m blessed to have got all that and more. I can’t wait to have my name dropped and my eggs cracked. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. All of this, because we happened to follow each other off of a few social media accounts.
But that’s the thing. The connections we have with our closest friends are borne out of conversation, the very same conversations that you can have on FaceTime. We can talk to people and understand them through a screen and engage with them on a daily basis. Despite all our scepticism, we still have a solidarity in using these platforms and some of us stumble into organic friendships or romantic relationships because of them. There’s an intimacy in being honest behind a screen because you comfort each other in words alone and it makes you share your emotions in a way that a lot of people are scared to do. This is how we started but it got to the point where it wasn’t enough for us because our physical bodies brought a quieter and stronger emotional bond. It’s what we want all the time now. That crossover from FaceTime calls to waking up in the same bed is the best feeling in the world. The internet helped spark a fire and everything we have done beyond that has kept it alight.
So when I miss him after half an hour, and when I catch myself looking at wedding dresses on Reformation, I don’t want anyone to scoff at me when I tell them I met the love of my life on twitter. He makes me feel loved and calm, and I want to raise a puppy with him, I want to go grocery shopping with him and no one else for as long as I live and most of all, I want him to pick me up at JFK and never have to drop me off ever again.
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Catapult’s Fall Instructor Showcase is at the #YeahYouWrite Reading Series Wednesday, August 10th at 6:30.
Aug 05, 2016