(Written in front of Tatte Bakery while shivering violently and pretending that I’m not)
Today in the last British Literature class I’ll ever (hopefully) take, my professor asked us if we write in journals. He did, and he said how fun it was to look back on journals from years ago and read what he thought. I had to bite my tongue to avoid plugging my blog (because not even I’m that obnoxious to do a shameless plug in British Literature)—
I should point out, legally, that I have actually put my Twitter/Instagram handle on the blackboard in this class; but that’s less of a shameless plug and more of a public service to my classmates. @dnnymccrthy on Instagram and Twitter.
—and thought back on when I had my old, horrific teenage blog—The Amazing Unicorn Files—where literally all I did was talk about boys I had a crush on, Honey Boo Boo (she was big in 2012), and vaguely offensive satiric “articles.” I have since shoved a stake into that blog’s heart and started this wonderful old broad. And this Elaine Stritch of a blog—shocking, funny, elderly—has morphed to be greater than TAUF. I get to write about politics and pop culture and what’s happening in my world.
But when I look back on this blog in a week, or a month, or a decade, I don’t think I’ll care about Donald Trump—unless he’s Il Duce Trump by then—or Lemonade or what queen went home on that week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ll still care about the Kardashians obviously, but that’s because I’ll be curious to see how Kris Jenner manages to outlive everyone else in her family.
I’ll care about what I felt, and what was happening in my life. What boys I liked, and what friends I had made, and how good I looked that day. I plan on getting extensive plastic surgery when I turn 40, so it’ll be nice to be able to look back on that youthful boy that I’m desperately trying to recreate.
So I just finished the last day of classes in my junior year. I still have finals and papers to write and loose ends to tie up, but that’s next week and an eternity away. Right now I’m sitting in front of a very chic café, watching cars go alongside my table and shivering from what I’ll say is the cold but might just be the coffee that I’m sucking down but don’t want to acknowledge because coffee shouldn’t make me spasm like a dying fish.
I’ve just finished my junior year of college and the long slab of summer lies ahead of me, but it’s weird, right? It’s odd. Suddenly, I’m about to reach this huge milestone—21, senior year of college, the world beyond—and it feels like it’s all happening too soon. I’m a kid. I don’t know how to get a job. I just figured out how people get cake pops to stick together. I can’t provide for myself. I can barely provide a hilarious one-liner response to cute cashiers.
I have friends who are graduating in a few days. I have friends who are engaged, or are in relationships that could blossom into long-term situations. I can see people going into jobs that lead to careers that lead to the rest of their lives. I can see it all, and it’s making me want to break a table. Because my life is one big sexy, messy black hole.
I feel like I’m always referencing my Brit Lit class, but bear with me. we read Gerard Manly Hopkins this week, and his poetry stuck in my brain like a half-remembered song. He writes like I write, adjectival and messy and complicated and complex. It’s a structure compounded words and thoughts, weaving together to create a parts-of-the-whole thing. And that made me flutter. Because here was someone who did what I want to do. Who was a writer and successful (I mean, he died at 45 of typhoid or something, and all of his poems were published posthumously, so I don’t want to do exactly what he did, also he was a priest which is so not my MO, but still) and loved what he did.
I can’t see my future and I can’t see what the next step should be, but I know what I want my narrative to be. I want to be able to get a job where I can be weird and funny and write in my voice. I want a cool life. I want to not find love right away and be able to have one of those twenties where I can have a shit ton of content off being a twentysomething. I want to live somewhere warm. I want to laugh until I cry, and choke on food and cackle-scream. I cackle-scream now, but I want to keep cackle-screaming.
(I had to move inside because I was cold and can’t pull off that “artist suffering for their work” mentality.)
I want all of these things and it’s weird that they’re beginning to be possible. That in a year, maybe less, I’ll have to start making big-boy-out-of-Pampers decisions. What a horrific image. Maybe I can pull a Lisa Rinna and make my money off adult diapers. That must be my rock bottom, but no one says you can’t make bank on the bottom (insert filthy joke here).
I don’t want this to turn into one of those fucking annoying feel-good posts, or one of those “Don’t make me adult” travesties. I want to adult. But it feels a little like being a kid at my grandma’s pool club. There was this huge dive—literally massive when you’re six—and one day, I decided to conquer it. Obviously this is a metaphor—pay attention.
I was—am—a total chickenshit, so I don’t know what made me think I could confidently pull this off, but maybe even then, I was trying to self-destruct. I climb up, and I’m eager. I want to be at the top; I want to make the jump. And suddenly, I’m at the top, and the breeze is stronger up here than it was on the ground, and everyone looks tiny, and that water looks like it’s going to hurt an awful lot from this high up. And so I’m torn, because I want to jump, but suddenly I’m thinking about the very concrete logistics. What will I look like as I fall? Should I tuck my arms in? Fling them out? How deep into the water will I go? Should I scream?
Then the lifeguard and my sister hovering on the top of the ladder are letting me know that I’m holding up everyone and I have to jump. I have to disregard all the questions and queries and potential situations. And so I curl my toes over the edge as the diving board wobbles underneath my weight. And almost before my brain can become okay with it, my feet make my decision for me and step off the edge.
The way down is as ungraceful as I feared, and the primitive instinct within me is making me flap my wings but if I’m a bird, I’m Big Bird, and I’m plummeting to the earth with the help of vengeful gravity. And I hit the water like a cannon, and shoot deep into the depths. My palms sear from the impact, but I float upwards without thinking and start swimming.
I’m hoping that life after college will start like that. That my body will move ahead of my over-agonizing mind and my palms will sear from the pain but that I can rely on muscle memory and start swimming towards something, anything.
I just had a really good conversation with a friend—let’s call her Libby—and she basically said that after college you just look at what the next best decision is, and you take it like that. Step. Step. Step. Evaluate. Step. Step. And if that’s not exactly what you meant, Libby, frankly take that up with my lawyers. Creative license. I’ll have my day in court.
I’m on that diving board and the wind is picking up. It’s fucking terrifying, but I’ve seen all my friends jump, so I have to assume that there’s something spectacular in the deep end. At the very least, there’s got to be something spectacular in the fall. And maybe that’s all that we can be promised at this point as soon-to-be functioning people. The fall is fun and shit-scary and your palms with sear with the impact but you’ll start swimming.
That seems like enough metaphors for today. This was fun. This was right.