On the day I got my degree, I had been in school for 19 consecutive years. I was really good at being a student. I was very happy being a student. I had thought a career course would become clear to me over the course of those four years. It had not. I considered graduate school, but I didn’t have a particular course of study in mind; I just wanted to keep learning. I sternly admonished myself. We were most certainly NOT applying to graduate school with nothing but this vague goal of continued learning.
So I got a job. Every morning I drove across a bridge and went to work in an office, where I struggled with the corporate culture, the rigid 9-to-5 structure, and the tepid feedback/praise that never came close to making me feel sated the way a good semester’s grades had.
Sometimes, I got to write at work. That was nice. Never mind, I told myself, that I was writing health insurance newsletters and bus shelter ad copy. Never mind that my prose never made it to press with my voice intact. Someone was willing to trade money for my words!
After about three years of that, I had a meltdown. I quit without making alternate plans. I floated up to my brother’s house, and got stuck there, sleeping on the couch and blowing smoke rings at my cat. I was unreachable.
Two years later I’d made my way to New York City, working for a company much like the one I’d left, except missing was the not-for-profit humanitarian mission.
Obsessed with my wasted potential. Still wishing I’d wake up one morning and find myself back on campus. Misbehaving in a way that I now see as a desperate attempt to remain a child.
I coasted until the summer of 2004, when I was suckerpunched by a series of personal tragedies. I ran away again, this time to the Caribbean. Also again, I was unreachable, but this time I had something brewing.