What is one to do when they have had, quite possibly, one of the worst days of all time? Well you call a good friend up and you ask for one of their happiest memories so that you, in turn, can remember that 99% of all stresses in this life are mice nuts. So this is exactly what I did. I called my friend Julia up, not but 20 minutes ago, and I said “Jules, I have a huge favor to ask, I need you to tell me something that will restore my faith in life long enough to finish a couple of essays and not get in my car and drive as far as a tank of gas can take me.” Naturally Julia rises to the occasion, as she always does, and says, “Okay this is kind of short notice, and quite a bit of pressure but one of my first memories was when I was three and I had this really old nanny. See normally I had these young nannies, but for some reason this one was old, and she was wearing a green striped shirt and had big saggy old lady boobs and she was pretty ‘well padded’ to say the least. I remember walking in the door and running up to her, she was bending down with open arms and I ran to hug her and bounced off her big granny boobs… I have no idea why that is so vivid in my memory, or why that was the one thing that I thought of to tell you, but I hope that it helps.” And just like that the world was right again, and here I sit with enough clarity and hope to write an essay, a task that seemed insignificantly impossible not but a half hour ago. That’s the beauty of life, sometimes it takes one magnificently simple moment to keep the machine in motion.
One of the best pieces of wisdom I have learned in my few years on this earth was from a neurotic make up artist who lived in an apartment above me in the slums of Hollywood. One afternoon I was sitting out in the courtyard having one of those “whoa is me” existential crisis days when she came up and sat next to me. It was a typical L.A. summer day, 80 degrees, no wind, no clouds, and a lingering guilt that sadness isn’t appropriate when there is so much sunshine. After about 30 minutes of celebrity name dropping, and “he said, she said” gossip of the Hollywood sets that she works on, she finally asked me how I was doing. Which I responded with the standard reply I give when things seem to be going so poorly that moving to Alaska and hibernating with grizzlies for the next 10-12 years doesn’t seem like that bad of an idea, I said, “eh, I’ve been better.” As the conversation went on I started crying and barfing out all of my problems, I even managed to pull out the old teenage motto, “Why me? Why is it so hard for me, why does this stuff happen to some people and not others? Blah blah, waah waah, sniff sniff.” You get the gist. Then Debbie, the shaved head, tattooed, pierced, “sexually free” makeup artist said something that was perfectly and exquisitely profound, she said “Well this is how I think of it. You can go up to two totally random people on the street and ask them ‘what is the worst physical pain that you have ever felt?’ One of those people could tell you that they slammed their finger in a car door and it hurt more than anything they had ever imagined. Then the next person could say that they were stuck under a log for three days and finally had to cut off their own leg with a pocket knife before dragging themselves two miles to find help. Regardless of what anyone thinks, both people have felt pain. You can not compare them, because in the both of their world’s the pain is equal, it is both the worst pain they have ever felt.” This little piece of advice has continuously kept me in balance. Some people are always better off, and some are always worse off and luckily most of us are somewhere in between, but pain is pain and joy is joy and there is no universal scale that ways our successes and tragedies.
How random is life? How is it that life can be so completely mediocre for such long stretches and then something in the universe decides to shake things up, so you randomly meet a life long friend, you some how run across a website that begins a journey to a new job, in a new place, that changes not only the course of your life but your entire perspective of life? How exciting is it to wake up every day when you have no clue what your life is going to be like when you get back in bed eighteen hours later? I mean let’s be honest, the large majority of the time you are going to have a day just like yesterday and just like what next Thursday is going to be like, but the possibility is there. For example a kid I work with has this stupid little dog that he seems to love more than life. It’s an odd match, a big beer drinking, football going, college kid with this little Paris Hilton dog. Then he told me that he actually found the dog in the gutter this summer. He posted fliers all over the neighborhood and put an ad in the paper for a “found dog” but no one ever called, no one ever claimed her. It just goes to show you that you could be driving along one day, completely satisfied with your position in life, and then you find yourself a little pocket pooch in the gutter, and your entire image is shattered and your sweetness drips out of the cracks. The undercurrent of life is taking us all places we might never go; hopefully when the time comes we all have the courage to loosen our grips.
Alright just when you thought I couldn’t get anymore cheesy I am going to one up myself and list off a few things that fill my spirit with glee. (I apologize for the unabashed sappiness of this all, but when you’re feeling as bitter as I am right now, listing off blissful memories is a whole lot healthier than trying to find answers in the bottom of a whiskey bottle). I’m going to have to say that little girls in pretty little dresses and white tights with pigtails make me happy, but what makes me openly laugh with joy is when those little girls have filthy knees from playing outside and sport a kool-aid mustache. There is absolutely nothing that isn’t perfect with that. I love getting the church giggles, you know when you are in someplace where it is entirely inappropriate to laugh, and the littlest thing can send you, and your accomplice, into a nose running, hyperventilating, giggling fit and the eyes of judgment that are cast upon you make it only more hysterically sublime. I love it when there is horrible weather outside and you are lucky enough to have someone to stay inside with you all day in sweatpants and consume more calories in one day than most third world countries get in a week. I like kissing someone when you are so happy you actually laugh in the other person’s mouth. I like watching teenagers try to act awkwardly cool in front of each other, and thanking the Lord I’m over that stage… kind of. I like witty banter with a stranger, I like waking up to a pot of coffee, I like forgetting who I am in a great book, I like getting to the age where I can see my mother as a woman. I like having the first comfortable silence with a new friend, you could be driving with them one day and all of the sudden realize that neither one of you has said anything in ten minutes and it was perfectly comfortable. This reminds me of a lesson I learned in my sociology lecture freshman year, in a class of over 300 students the professor stood up on the desk and said, “You can tell the most important relationships in your life judging by who you can and can not fart in front of.” Amen brother, amen.
So what do I do now, now that I am reaching the end of this essay and the end of my college career? Should I be generic and say some bullshit like “every ending is a new beginning” “here I stand on the horizon of a limitless future”, or should I be honest? Should I tell you that with all the hope, optimism, and beauty in the world I am still scared shitless? I am in debt up to my elbows and I don’t think there are many jobs where you can travel around the world with your best friends, laugh with locals, drink a lot, and get paid for being funny. Should I tell you that as far as education is concerned, I didn’t learn much in college besides how to get by, by putting forth the least possible effort? I am arrogantly intelligent and because of this I don’t try very hard and in turn don’t learn very much, I don’t like that about myself. I, in no way think that this is an original ending either, because how many times has this exact statement been written by confused twenty something’s? I am going to roughly guess fifty seven million times, just guestimating. If I had an all encompassing life philosophy, I would throw in my two cents, and end it with that, unfortunately for myself more than the essay, I haven’t gotten there yet. I could always end it with a sneak peak into my soft side. The corner of me that isn’t nearly as tough as I would like it to be, the part that isn’t callused over with sarcasm and arrogance, the part of me that maybe doesn’t really know what the fuck she’s talking about. That would be good. But not tonight. I don’t think I have time for that, you see I need to call Julia and get another perfect memory so that I can have enough energy to take on the next essay, you see, despite how hard I fought it, that is the only way it could have ended, at the beginning.