Chapter Nineteen – The Roaring Twenties
by Christine Wild
The blank page, a writer’s worst enemy, today stares at me impeccably mirroring the state of my life. “So what’s new?” “Nothing, I hate my job, my life is bleak and I want to run away…” I have been hearing myself repeating this over and over for the past 6 months. I feel like I am being strangled, and I need to physically cough it out. I cannot believe where I am sitting and the ordinary nature of it all.
In fact, there have been a lot of changes in my life recently. And no, it is not Liam hurting me again, but thank you for the assumption. In fact, our relationship is going better than I ever could have expected. We are happy. Liam and I have been living together. We met each other’s families on two separates trips. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves and yes, we could be having more sex. Relationships are never perfect, but this is pretty close. The trust is being re-built every day a little bit more and we made space for our respective personalities. I also officially graduated, moved to a downtown apartment and started wearing suits. A lot is new in my life.
Yet here I am, gasping for air. I have not written a single word in over 7 months. I am working at an HR company, Monday to Friday, 8-4. It is eating my soul away. I have reasons for this pitiful job, with its pitiful pay. It would go great on my resume, and allow me to get my immigration papers sorted. Yet I cannot come to terms that this would be my life. Your twenties are for trying things out, exploring and being broke, they said. Well here I am, in the midst of them, and that is not my reality. “Do whatever you want” really means find a job that you can survive at. It means find a job that shows progression in your life. Do not stall! Grow!
Fuck that. Let’s do the math together shall we? As a recruiter, I cannot seriously consider candidates with less than a year at each job for simple retail positions. That means that in my last 5 years of my twenties I have 5 things, 5 jobs, that I can try before my body clock starts ticking louder and I start considering life choices that I will not longer selfishly be at the heart of. Wow. That is not soul searching, that is bullshit. I want to waste away the time with loving every minute, and that in our day and age is not sustainable.
I want to go back to school. I want to travel. I want to drink the day away. I want to sit in a hammock and look at all the freedom I have left to spare. Instead, last weekend I spent two days trying to think of a place where I could go sit in the sun, write, drink and smoke in peace, and even that seemed impossible on this damned continent. I had no money to go away, and if I did, I would not even be granted the time to do so. That summer in Croatia spent living seemed so unattainable and I hate feeling this way. This is not growth; this is stalling. My T4 may be the only thing showing improvement since all I do is work, but my heart and soul, I can feel them shrinking.
Liam and I went to visit my family in Europe for two meager weeks and I was very happy for those brief 15 days. I did not foresee that they would invite sorrow into my soul. I had these plans after university, to write and live off bohemian positions, earning enough to get by, somewhere in the world. I had this vision of myself in a long flowy skirt and sunglasses, sitting at a frail patio table. Liam would come to meet me for an aperitif after work and we would revel in fresh summery foods. I could see him walking towards me from a distance. He would take off his sunglasses, just to put this little soft kiss on my lips. “Hi bébé, how was your day?” This could be my life.
Instead I am living in Vancouver, working to be able to stay, not knowing whether that is something I even want. Liam and I are talking about uprooting ourselves, living in Europe, where that easier life can be found. Something always comes in our way. I want to be able to come back if I so choose, thanks to my university and not a shotgun wedding. That requires time and a real job, and so much paperwork. He wants to see if that promotion will happen and try to finish night school. Things would develop one way or the other in the next 6-8months, but what if they don’t?
This is not how I want to live my life. “Oh, I see what you are going through,” said Sam. “You’re in post-university crisis! During those four years, everyone had been admiring your brains. Your grades served as approval, congratulating you on your efforts. And now, you’re on your own honey! It’s not the same.” Thank Sam! I knew I could count on you. She was right. Life was telling me to shut my pretty little brains up and keep my head down. This politically correct pretend game was the boa constrictor to my soul.
– Good morning! How are you?
– Amazing!! How are you??
– Well, let’s see. It’s 7.30a.m on a Tuesday and I’m at work. I am awake; I showed up. That’s all you’ll get from me.
You can imagine this does not go well in the corporate world. After being called out twice in four months for negativity, I sincerely started wondering if I was being negative. It seems that my critical skills, that I spent so much time and money perfecting, were now coming across as negativity. Granted, I hate being there so it probably shows to a certain extent. More worrisome to me, is the fact that even in my worst bartending gigs, I was always complimented on my bubbly personality. “How do you manage to smile like that all the time? I don’t know Hun’, maybe it’s just seeing you! What can I getcha?”
It seems that now, even the little things I used to do have lost a little bit of their sparkle. I used to sit at my kitchen table at UBC looking out the window, smiling as people walked on by beneath me, wondering what their lives were like. That nerdy guy with the backpack, did he have a girlfriend? That girl I saw everywhere, why did she seem so sad? I was curious and still am. I just seem to have lost that little Christine thing and it is scaring me. This is also why I am anxious about waiting to see how plans pan out. What if I have in fact become this boring and negative woman, permanently unhappy? I can handle being broke. I can handle heartache. I can handle Sudbina being thrown at me. I cannot seem to handle idling. I have by all first world standards absolutely nothing to complain about. Yet, I feel that this cannot be it. My life has to hold more sparkle than this; there had to be more bliss in store for me.
I cannot even bring myself to talk about these things with some of my friends. Fucking brat, is what Lola* said to me. Lola had that Irish twang that made everything sound that much harsher. She had a path. She was working as an interior designer, after having studied just that. This is what she had to say when I showed up at her door, crying about my job: “Granted the pay is shit but I love my job!” She always had just the words, that bitch. She was very realistic and told me how lucky we were to have the possibility of hating our jobs. Most people had it much worse. I said I was not most people. Lola looked at me like, poor puppet with her big girl problems, and buried my head in her enormous, comforting breasts. Lola is right. Yet even she knows that I am supposed to be doing other things, things that make me happy. That’s the key isn’t it? If you have all the necessary means of survival, it seems that happiness is the ultimate luxury. Yet a part of me knows that toying with the ability to survive, taking chances that may see you losing it all, brings you that much closer to a faster heart rate and a bigger smile.