Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Lonesome Long Drive with the Moon and Antarctica and the West

At some point this morning I snapped out of a funk that I'd been in for about ten days. I was spending more time than usual lolling around, watching TV, thinking that activities such as leaving the house and getting my oil changed sounded exhausting. I was also listening to a lot of Modest Mouse and that can never be good. (It is only OK in moderation.)
What brought this on is the impending End of Employment and the fact that I have no immediate plans following that. I have more money in the bank right now than the Emergency Recession Laying Off Fun suggested by Bust magazine, I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii, and in the meantime, I have about a month of free time. In the beautiful Pacific Northwest. What am I going to do with that time!? What a question!
I could start by taking the GREs.
I have plenty of sightseeing to do.
I could research and visit potential graduate schools.
I will probably take a short road trip to Olympic National Park and Victoria, BC. (Maybe Seattle and Vancouver at some point, too.)
But none of this would console me over the weekend. No logic or reassurance would dispel my pessimism because...for the first time since I was sixteen...
I wouldn't be working!
What would be my purpose in life? What would I be contributing to society?
I came to two realizations this weekend. #1 - Sadly, but truly, I am one of those people who is defined by her work. I need a purpose. Maybe I'll outgrow it, but in the meantime, I'm Dorothea Brooke and science is my Casaubon. #2 - The way I felt this weekend--lost, unhappy, pessimistic about my immediate future--this was just a couple of days in Oregon. However, it was how I felt for the entire duration of my Life in Morristown. There were moments when I was distracted from it, like when I saw the Great Swamp for the first time. I left work at 4:30 and rushed over there before sunset. I had to change into hiking clothes in my car...in Somerset County! (I didn't know there was a porta-potty a few feet away.)

Anyway, at some point that feeling just went away. The logic, which had been in my mind all weekend, was starting to make sense on an emotional level. I guess sometimes you need to wallow; you need to NOT think positively but to work through the negativity until it just goes away. Even if it means eating endless quesadillas while watching reruns of 30 Rock and occasionally reverting to a 1990's teenager, wearing Hot Topic makeup and listening to songs like "Lives" and thinking, "Life is so haaaaaaaaaaard."

The funny part is that at some point this weekend, my father was giving me a pep talk. The words of it were nearly identical to things I was saying before I moved out here. This is a good opportunity, I needed the field experience and this is a very respected botanic garden, this was a fun adventure, I got to drive across the country and see a whole lot of Oregon while getting paid to do it, if it was a mistake then I made a mistake at the right age...etc etc etc. It was my father who pointed out that I should really take the month off between End of Employment and Hawaii to look into graduate school and also to do fun things like drive to Canada!

Well, I added in the Canada part. I think what he actually meant by "sightsee" was "sightsee in Portland, during daylight hours only with an adult chaperon looking both ways before crossing the street! And call when you get there!"

In fact, life is pretty good! September in Portland really does mean perfect weather. Tomorrow, I'm going to Mount Hood. In less than two months, I'm going to Oahu. I got my oil changed. Organic eggs are on sale at Fred Meyer, and I found out that French braiding my hair takes only three minutes and keeps all the odd-sized layers from popping out throughout the day, leaving a trail of bobby pins to mark where I've been. And I have four more Modest Mouse albums today than I did last September!

No comments: