Solace in Pancakes
Semesters in college always end abruptly, without warning. You’re going going going and then it’s summer, and you’re on to the next thing. Normally, I never take time to reflect until I’m home, when I find myself with nothing to do except drink all the kombucha my mom keeps stocked in the fridge, and think. And usually it takes time for me to get through all the: I should have written more. I should have done my reading. blah blah bleh.
This semester, one of my professors poignantly said, “Oftentimes we operate within the confines of our own repression.”
I don’t think I was alone when I found myself really relating to that. I often repress my thoughts and ideas, too scared to write them down in fear of finally having to admit to myself that I actually can’t write for shit. I repress them in fear that this “blog” thing I’m trying is just another young, white woman’s vapidity and vanity rearing its ugly head to the world.
And when I do actually write, I make sure it stays within the confines of my notebooks, safely zipped up in my backpack. But after reading through the things I wrote this semester, I decided to type them out and share them. So here is entry #1. Because what better way to reflect on the semester than to start with me on a late night, stressed out of my mind.
There’s just not enough fucking time in the day for it all. I have an article due tomorrow, a book to read and a presentation to put together by Thursday. I haven’t been able to shut my brain off. Shit, I even went to schedule a therapy appointment, and when my therapist emailed me back, I couldn’t even find the time to respond.
As I was walking back towards the dorms tonight, I really wanted IHOP. So I went to IHOP.
I got a table for one and sat down, thinking I’d do some work. My computer was almost dead, no outlet in sight, and man I breathed a sigh of relief. A moment—even 20 minutes—to just sit with my pancakes, my thoughts, and a pen and paper.
This takes me back to when I would go to my corner booth at Mother’s in high school—my solace away from the craziness of home. Mom in bed. Dad on the couch, absent. Me, both absent and resentful, already 3,000 miles away in Cambridge.
Well now I’m here. I’ve been here for almost 3 years.
On my first official night of college, I sat in this very IHOP with a girl I thought was my new best friend. I was enchanted—with the place, the people, the possibility and promise I felt within myself. I had no idea I’d soon walk down the street and not gasp at every brick-lined wall I passed. I had no idea how hard school would be, how inadequate and in over my head I’d feel.
I had no idea I would spend the next 3 years constantly thinking about the next thing on my to-do list, the next thing to put on my resume—I had no idea.
Because on that first night in IHOP, I had made it.
The whole world was gleaming with the shiny-new-toy sparkle of the unknown—a sparkle I would soon allow to fade into the dull ache of expectations and unfulfilled requirements. My world of freedom shifted into a laundry list of unchecked boxes.
But for the time being, I am back to where I started. In IHOP, pancakes in my belly. Satisfied with this moment, and trying not to look to the next.