Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thoughts of a Restless College Girl

Listening to the reggae version of "Everything I Own" is, I think, the perfect way to stare out the window and enjoy a dark, meteor-less night sky. I missed the meteor shower. [But at least I can say I took a real shower this morning. That doesn't always happen.] Are you ever afraid that you're going to miss everything? Not just meteor showers, I mean. Do you ever feel like life is going to pass by day after day and you won't realize? Sometimes I just get so restless. I'm tired of falling asleep in the same bed every night. That sounds trashy, but it's truthful. Sometimes I don't even want a bed. My mother tends to think my life will be a complete mess, and maybe she's right. If I told her about my dreams of a bed-less lifestyle, she'd say, "Oh that's nice, Jeanine," in that snide tone that tells me my money will melt like ice water in hell when I "move to California," a statement I'm sure she still puts in air quotes in her head. But you know what? I don't mind. I think it's kind of fun proving people wrong.

Life is just too short to not make a mess sometimes. It's a cliche, saying life is short. It's what gets said when someone dies too young or the summers pass too quickly. But it's starting to mean something to me. We grow up listening to lies and insults and start believing the things we're told about the world and the people in it. And I think life is just too damn short to listen to it anymore. I want to travel. I want to make up my own mind. I want to go back to Evansville and point fingers and say, "You were such a BITCH in high school, and you know it!" Of course I'd probably giggle after saying that, because I can't even think of anyone who was really, truly a "bitch" in high school. I mean, weren't we all? But that's the thing about growing up; you don't think about the mistakes you're making, because you're young, you're supposed to make them. You think the entire world lies somewhere on Lincoln Avenue.

Yeah, St. Ben's graduates, I stole your crayons. Kindergarten through fourth grade. All of them. I think that's the least of my mistakes, but I figured I'd start at the beginning, when my sins were much smaller and more forgivable. I've done a lot of wrongs in my life, and there will be many more to come. But I'd also like to think I've done some rights. My point, I guess, is that we tend to view our lives in terms of what we've grown up hearing from others. If we do_____, we're good. If we don't, we're bad. Etc, etc. But the truth is, the people we grew up taking orders from were once just as careless and clueless as us. They probably still are. My mother chastises my dreams because she once dreamt the same things, but because she was smarter and safer with her life, she thinks she made the right choice. And maybe she did. But I'm too stubborn to be smart or safe, and my life is far too short.

In Catholic school, kids are taught to honor their mothers, fathers, and teachers like they're taught to tie shoes. Swimming against the current and questioning those authorities can be detrimental; receiving detention seven years in a row taught me that. And yet, I have to push the buttons a little more. It's in my blood. I'm as curious about those buttons as I was about Nick McNeer's insulin needle...another detention, if I remember correctly. I don't want to sleep in the same bed every night because I don't like routine. I make mistakes, and I'm too curious, and I have so many questions that are still unanswered, many of which I probably shouldn't ask.

I just want to take this moment to be grateful for all the chances I've been given so far. I'm grateful that my mother didn't make me go to school twenty miles away from home. And I'm also grateful for my mother. She challenges me every day to do the best damn job I can without even knowing she does it. Her "ice water in hell" theory wakes me up every morning with a vigor. I am determined to earn a degree in a penniless career and move to one of the most expensive cities in the country, all in less than two and a half years. I'm determined to take the less safe, less smart path. Many of the people I grew up with will live in Evansville their whole lives, comfortably happy, and that's not a bad thing. There's already enough people in other parts of the world...lord knows there's enough in LA.

But I hope that these people I've known get a chance to leave every once in a while, too, to make their way out of the city limits and get lost for a little bit. There are so many places and experiences in this world that we've already missed...a million meteor showers could come and go, and half of us would still never pull our faces away from the computer screens fast enough to see them. In the St. Ben's school cafeteria, there is a painting of doves in a garden on one wall that reads: "There are two lasting things we give our children: One is roots, the other is wings." Personally, I feel like I've got roots out the wazoo. What I need now is a good pair of wings. Evansville is a fine place, one that makes me want to hum the "Cheers" theme song and sends a wave of memories flooding over me each time I return. But I don't want the world to pass by while I read about it in the news. I want to live it. I want my wings.

My thoughts are too big to keep in order most of the time, so forgive me if none of this even makes any sense. My whole point is, don't let life pass you by. Don't get too complacent in the place we've called "home" all these years and forget that there's another world out there. I'm just now learning it. And my mother, who thinks I could live a comfortable life in Evansville--one where I wouldn't have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck--isn't wrong by any means. I could live comfortably here, in this state known for Catholics, corn, and Fall Festivals. But I would be complacent. And that's basically the same as having clipped wings. So for those of you like me, longing for adventures and not-so-comfortable lifestyles, know that those who roll their eyes and write you off as kids were once kids themselves. Those who call you "dreamers" have had their fair share of dreams. And never forget the wise words of Mr. Robert Downey, Jr; when someone says you can't do something, "listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f*ck you were gonna do anyway."