Ongoing Essay On Time
First off, I’d like to welcome you to the inner workings of the turbulence that is each night of my life. Whether it is from the stress of enduring a future I couldn’t possibly afford to even dream about (though I do), pursuing a current focus for my creative energies, or resonating on one of my many vivid and eclectic fantasies, I often suffer from insomnia and have positively accepted a fate of sleeping little more than 5 hours a night if I’m lucky. Thus, I have become fascinated by the time spanse of late evening to early morning. These are the times when I ask the most important questions and do my best to provide answers that have sprouted from analyzing, questioning, and wondering about the nature of the world in which I was raised.
My biggest question has always been on how to handle one of the biggest and most terrifying gifts we as coherent and intelligent beings could be given. The gift of Time. In the fall of 2014, I began writing an ongoing essay on the topic of Time. I update it yearly based on the shiftings in my thought and belief patterns as I test out my, now, 21 year old adult soul and spirit against the world and her many beautifully unforgiving challenges.
(Always) I feel like there is never enough of it.
(2017) I can feel myself chaotically spinning through life as I watch it disappear. It’s equivalent to feeling like you exist in the apex of a tornado. Yet strangely standing still.There is no way of knowing what I want to do with myself before the age of thirty, let alone for the rest of my days. I am not in college at this point. I am twenty one years old and I was studying a liberal arts degree, with a focus in fine arts and writing, at a private college in New York City. (2014) I worked myself nearly to death through high school to get there. My senior year I was taking AP classes, working 35 hours a week (including night shifts on weekends) and constantly schmoozing the financial aid team at my college in order to have the privilege to sit there in my Manhattan apartment, on my worn through purple couch (courtesy of student housing) indulging in Halal whilst writing the first draft of this short memento. In between study breaks I had earned myself the privilege of indulging in the various life ramblings of my upper class roommates and their, as well as their friend’s, various set backs in their week. I’ve learned events that include, but are not limited to: the contemplation of the social advancement of long distance open relationships, pulling the losing straw on who signs in for who in that math class everybody fails their first time around, and maxing out the credit card by Thursday –are all events that qualify the week to be a level 1 travesty- in Freshman Girl World.
I had planned my move down to a “T”. Being the only child from a single, female, parent household there was no other option. Otherwise, my “future” would have consisted of the typical textbook case of “Girl seeks contentment before her midlife crisis by trying all the wrong ways first”.
A quick example:
Maybe community college for a few years, then a state school of some preferably mediocre name where I’d find a guy suitable enough to be considered “The One”. What would continue from there is statistically predictable for a young person with an upbringing similar to my own. I would fall head over heels for….we’ll call him classic “John Doe” for now…I’d fall head over heels for Mr. Doe. He’d be the classic Midwestern gentleman. With wonderful manners in front of my mother, a reverence for the Sunday-Sabbath routine, and the classic taste for pickup trucks, beer on all sporting event nights and an almost sultry commitment to his rifle during hunting season. Obviously, he would be the fix to all of my problems. We would date around a few years. Eventually we would work through my detachment and daddy issues and his overly attached relationship with his mother. Then one magnificent day he’d surprise me by popping the question in an overly romantic way that screamed evidence of planning by both my friends and my mother, and I would say yes of course. Then I would be Mrs. Jane Doe. My life mission from then on would consist of constantly learning to balance pleasing John, continuing my job as a stay at home writer, and raising the children we’d either adopt, or create together.
The perfect family. The perfect life….
…yeah, the thought of forcing myself to commit to a fate like this one absolutely terrifies me. In the Midwest, especially the city I was raised in, the story above is the ultimate familial goal the majority of children are raised to believe must be achieved. Meaning this story is a reality for many families. Of course people are human, so as these Twainian characters play their parts there are variations that range from changes in ethnicity to changes in parental structure. However the underlying mentality of living in the “right” kind of home, raising the “right” kind of kids, and living the “right” life is one that all modern day Midwesterners battle as they grow and become the people they are choosing to be for the rest of their lives. Most run into the inevitable environmental setback of following in their parents footsteps. However, a few are lucky and learn to mold their outlook with questions, exploration, and passion. What results is a fresh, new style of human existence amongst those young individuals, and eventually their children, a new trend of tradition. What comes from that? The social outlaw of the suburban community that surrounds them everywhere they go. I can distinctly remember instances where people’s faces visibly changed after learning about the “alternative” life style my mother and I were forced to live simply, because she was a single mom. My lack of expensive costume and fluidity of money labeled me as a lower class kid in the preparatory high school I went to, but once people learned that I was not only poor, but also from a “defective” home their faces changed. It’s the same way underlying racism is handled in my town. People from non-traditional homes who also happen to hold liberal views are labeled “lost”. And instead of investing time into those young persons who are not from as blessed situations, or unblessed if one considers the secret suburban horror stories that are told around the cocktail bar after last call, people simply waist precious time and energy creating false judgments and stories and then spreading them around. My peers would label me with the most hated names, because of the people I surrounded myself with. The un-wanted. The non-churchgoers. The lesbians. The gays-because there was separate categories for all gender and ethnic diaspora. The weird, obnoxious theatre kids that sang too loud and acted like divas. Yup, these were my friends. And, because they were I too, at some point, was also a lesbian, non-churchgoer, unwanted, and a diva. I did not belong, because of people’s refusal to see through shallow labeling and adolescent actions. People did not understand that in the grand scheme of things, these labels would no longer matter. So, senior year, due to my culturally created alternate persona of being a lesbian pot dealer- (2017)which doesn’t sound half bad after a three year rethink, I did not have a date to prom. Instead, I went with my friends and I loved every single second I spent dancing with them. My mother raised me to look at the world in a unique manner. I was raised to treat people like they were human. Crazy, isn’t it? She raised me to believe that I am strong, I am independent, I do not need labels, I do not need approval. All I need is faith, a deep and profound love for others, and the knowledge of the value of time. Everything else will fall into place naturally and if it doesn’t, then there wasn’t a place for it to begin with.
(2016) So, here I am now. I am the only student, of my high school class, to have survived and sustained myself through the move to a place as significant and terrifying as New York City. I have survived the fragile infrastructure of a broken family unit. I have survived the injustice that exists within the American private schooling system. And I have survived birth-inherited poverty. My clothes have gone from “out of date” to “thrifty” and “vintage chic”. My mindset from “loud” and “erratic” to “progressive” and “empowering” and “normal”. I can jerry rig a structurally unsound sink better than “that guy in the other room who has an acting master’s from NYU” and I know how to finagle my way around rent in the months where my employer’s decide to do a mass hiring in prep for holidays. I feel alive, because I am learning more about myself here than I ever would have if I had allowed myself to become “Mrs. Jane Doe”. I feel like I am constantly moving and encountering competition. But, instead of going home with “broken heels and a battered heart”, I come home to Bushwick/Bedstye, Brooklyn; the home of those with secondhand purchased broken heels, fluttering hearts and thirsty souls. Here, there is a chance I can make a contribution to the world that is worth being made; a contribution worth remembering is more valuable than a contribution that is simply “great”. To be “great” implies that a person would have to peak and then suffer the emotionally depressing slide back down. However, if a person strives to be remembered they will ultimately achieve transcendence. Time for them won’t be limited; it will be endless. This is what I strive for; why I make sure that I value each fleeting bit of time I am given with people now. So, when I am old, wrinkly, with all the time in the world to sit back and remember, I will not only be pleased with what I remember about myself, but with what I know will be left behind for others to remember as well.