Simple Questions

March 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s rare for me to be at a loss for words. Normally I’m armed with a sarcastic wit at the very least, or a solid “Holy shit” ready to go as a response. On Saturday, I was asked two questions that left me speechless, staring vacantly with a bewildered expression and nothing in my mouth but a slightly dry tongue. The questions weren’t even challenging but they caught me at a weird moment in my life, in my personal history.

“Are you happy?”

I’m sure you can understand how even on a normal day I would struggle answering this question. There are big things in my life that make me happy — my nuclear family of Jason and the girls, my blood family, my friends at work, etc. — but am I happy? Am I happy? Generally, I would shrug and say a noncommittal “sure” but on Saturday, I just gaped at her. She asked me this within five minutes of meeting me for the first time, so it was certainly one of the last questions I was expecting to explode out of her mouth. I noticed the seconds ticking by as I stared at her but the only thing I uttered to break the silence was “uh, no.” which wasn’t really the best response.

Why can’t I answer simple questions like that to strangers I’ll never see again? Why can’t I just be a normal person and say “Of course! Aren’t you?” and keep the conversation light and moving along to other superficial topics? I was having a tough day already, teetering on a depressive episode as a result of my dual rejection letters from UNC and my lack of progress on the job front, so faking Normal wasn’t really in the cards anyway. But still, any reaction would have been better than the one I had. A few weeks ago, when I was still feeling hopeful and excited about my future, I would have answered wholeheartedly Yes.

“If you could live anywhere, where would it be?”

I wasn’t even a part of the conversation really. I desperately latched on to Jason at the first opportunity to get away from the condescending and intense “Are you happy?” girl, so I was more relieved to be free from talking than excited to be in their discussion. I wasn’t paying attention to Jason and Chris’s topic of conversation so when Chris addressed me directly with a loud “If you could live anywhere, where would it be?” I was caught completely off guard. I handled it about as well as the “Are you happy?” question, staring at him with a slight deer-in-headlights expression and only mustering a mumbled “…what? I don’t know…”.

I’ve never really had a solid answer to that question. If you ask Jason, it’s Key West. No question. Boom. There’s his dream town. But for me? I’ve never really been happy with anywhere I’ve lived. There are things I love about places I’ve lived, but they were never perfect or ideal, they were never everything I wanted. I loved DC but travel was exhausting, just to go to the grocery store was an all-day complicated affair, and the winters were long and brutal. Tourist season was enough to make me want to hold a gun over my head and scream for them all to go the fuck home if they can’t figure out how to function in the city. The city itself was gorgeous, though, and I loved the energy of it, knowing that important things were happening there and great minds were convening. The diversity was refreshing as well, particularly for a girl from Alabama. I get sick of seeing white people en masse and I get just as sick seeing blatant racial divides like you find in Birmingham.

Enough about DC. Where would I go if I could live anywhere? Truthfully, I don’t think an ideal place like that exists for me. I need warm weather but I love old cities. I like walkability as well as drivability. I love trees and greenery. I hate strip malls and chain restaurants. Dog-friendly, diverse, strong interest in the arts and more intellectual pursuits, locally-focused, liberal. Is that a place? Does that exist somewhere? I certainly don’t know of it if it does. I fit in so well with New England in my desires for a place as well as my personality (type A, driven, intellectual, liberal) but that damn weather is never going to work for me. I just can’t do that kind of cold.

I don’t feel I have the luxury to think about things like that. There was a similar question floating around somewhere on the internet asking what would you buy first if you got a big raise/promotion/new job. What would I buy first? What would I buy? They listed things like a new car and designer clothes, a new house or a second house on a beach, etc. I can’t think of anything sexy or exotic that I would buy, even with a million dollars. I feel like paring down the stuff I have already because so much of it is just excess baggage. I love my car now, though it does need some work. New tires, actual CRX seats (it has civic seats now and they’re not the right fit for the car), and I’d like to build a custom dog seat for the girls in the back since the seat back that came with it is broken (and too small in the first place).

And student loans. I would “buy” off my student loans. Pay them off as quickly as possible so we can start looking for a house. Not a McMansion or anything stupid like that. Who needs so many rooms? You’ll just have to fill them with more shit you don’t need and hire a maid to clean them all. We’d like a unique fixer-upper in a walkable neighborhood with a big yard and a great school system.

Is this adulthood? Or is this what happens when you live paycheck to paycheck for so long? Will I ever be in a place where I think $6.99 is too much to pay for a shirt at the thrift store?

Such simple questions, I can’t answer a single one.

I met with a temp agency today and of course they’re first question was “What do you want to do?” ::blank stare:: I got nothing. I don’t know. No clue. Just give me a job and I’ll see where it takes me. They seemed to like my edited resume (strictly one page, no grad school listed, limited work experience) and were excited about me as a prospective candidate, already listing some positions they think I could be good for. So maybe something is in the works, the universe is gearing up to break me out of this stagnant, boring, inane, and meaningless position and opening a door to a whole new world, a new industry with new people and new things to learn, that might lead me somewhere good, somewhere I can feel useful, helpful, worth something.

I really need to feel worth something. Sometimes I think it’s a total fluke that anyone loves me at all.


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