An ironic mustache outlined in beer foam took most of my attention away from the surly art student’s musings, but one idea hit me harder than the sugared down vodka entering my bloodstream. “I have no expectations. I am only ever pleasantly surprised, if something goes right, or contently unconcerned, if something goes wrong.” My stomach turned. My body was rejecting his philosophy almost as quickly as the alcohol. Apathy has never been present in my wheel of emotions. My glass is always half full, no matter how much I’ve drank. My mind is full to the brim with expectations for life. To say that I could wake up one day and just not care? Impossible. I can only speculate that this ideology came from one too many failed conquests. Even if I am defeated, I want to feel and treasure the defeat. It makes success that much sweeter. To feel deeply is the gift and curse of life.
Every morning, my roommate and I roll out of bed forty minutes before our first class. Foundation is blended, cheeks are blushed, and eyelashes are curled. We take turns looking for a suitable outfit in the closet where we can barely fit our massive combined wardrobe. She nestles bobby pins patiently in her hair; curly hair requires a forgiving hand. I spritz perfume along my neck while absentmindedly pawing through my collection of earrings. We’re often asked “Why do you look so cute today?” Why? We do it for ourselves. Spending time with myself every morning while I get ready is my personal form of meditation. I’m readying myself for the challenges of the day that lies before me. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or what I’m doing. I’m gonna look good and look good doing it.
The vibrancy of my surroundings varies throughout my life. Sporadically, I’m struck by the potency of the world around me. My autopilot malfunctions and I’m hurled into the driver’s seat. It’s as if I’m seeing for the first time. Edges are sharper; colors are brighter. The monotony of daily life is shattered. Avoiding the wreckage is impossible. My body is forced to come to a halt and acknowledge this random wave of consciousness. Crawling out of my own head is always the most shocking part of this split second experience. I never realize how much I don’t notice until I’m hopelessly hanging onto every detail. And as quickly as I was thrown from my mind, I’m sucked back into the vacuum of my thoughts until next time.
If I were an artist, the idea of a creating a self portrait wouldn’t be so daunting. I’ve had a long love affair with my particular set of features. Vanity courses through my veins. But I’m not an artist. I’m a writer. A tangible portrayal would be simple. My hypothetically dextrous hand would be kinder while duplicating the peaks and valleys of my dearly self-obsessed image. This representation would be lovely due to the fact that it’s purely physical. It wouldn’t have any of the truth my inner monologue would whisper sheepishly from a written page.
It’s over. I’m recovering. Words haven’t flown through the air for several minutes now. The debate is over. The fighting, the persuading, the imploring. Have we reached a pinnacle? Is it all downhill from here? A lone smile appears from within the darkness. “I pinky promise.” A hand reaches toward mine and a promise is made. The hand doesn’t understand why I don’t return the gesture. Promises are a slap in the face. Merriam-Webster defines a promise as “a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future”. If I make a promise, I’m going to break it. You know why? The very nature of a promise leaves it so vulnerable to being invalidated. If I knew for a fact I was going to do something, it would already be done. As soon as I have to assure someone of my dependability, we both know it isn’t going to happen. Promises portray a definitive end and the end is never certain.
Being raised by a hardened Marine and a devout Catholic had a serious effect on my social skills. Emotions weren’t allowed in my childhood home. Anger was bottled; sadness was hidden away. It’s easy to idealize my personality because of this learned repression. Describing myself is fun with buzz words like easy going, nonchalant, and tolerant. They’re simple and conceal the unfortunate truth. I have absolutely no idea how to interact and connect with another human being. My instinct to maturely express myself is stunted. Empathy is never my first reaction and I still haven’t learned how to apologize. I let people walk all over me. That way I don’t have to engage. All my true feelings are locked up, which leaves my disposition to seem unoccupied and aloof. When prompted to open up, my internal vacancy overcomes any attempt to truly identify with another. One day, I’ll find a way to climb out of the void or I’ll blow.