I had been sitting in that coffee shop for too long with nothing to show for the time. Everyone around me was reading or writing or talking, but I just sat there, blank. Occasionally I would lift the top piece of my sandwich hoping more bacon would appear. Nope. Just cold egg. So I left. I got on my bike and started riding. I smiled. The only time I’m happy these days is when I’m moving, flowing, outside. The sun’s about to disappear for a few months, and I’m scared, so I’m logging as many daylight hours as I can. I got to the end of Orange Street where the road splits and headed up to the summit of East Rock Park.
It wasn’t crowded at the top, but I wasn’t alone. Some families took photos. Several couples cuddled and looked at the ocean. I sat on a stone wall and pulled out my barely-charged laptop in order to plug in my not-at-all-charged phone so I could keep listening to music through my mostly-busted earbuds. I queued a few songs, sent a snapchat, then clicked my screen off and started scribbling in my journal. Thoughts about acorns and foliage and the fear of being female and biking alone through non-trafficked woods. I looked at the massive refined oil tanks down by the ocean. And at the singular wind turbine. I thought about Standing Rock Reservation. About water as life. I took a swig from my inconveniently large water bottle. I got back on my bike and coasted down the
mountain hill. My shirt had those thumb holes in it, but that wasn’t enough to keep my hands warm. I tucked them under my armpits.Flying hands free down Orange Street is about the coolest I ever look; I relished in that feeling for a moment.
I got home. Words were coming in dribs and drabs, as they say, but I needed to keep my mind and body flowing, so I got ready for yoga. I stepped over a pile of over-due library books. $3.70. My penalty fines will serve as my annual donation to the New Haven Free Public Library. As I took another step to reach for my coat, I heard a splat, and realized I had stepped on a banana. It wasn’t even concealed by clothes or anything; it was just lying in the middle of my floor–God knows why–and I managed to step on it. I put the busted banana in the fridge and hopped back on my bike. I practiced an hour of heated vinyasa flows to Halloween themed music. That was a cheesy touch on the instructor’s part, but my practice was strong and fluid, so I didn’t mind the playlist. I rode home, ate some spaghetti, and still, no words.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of days like today. Days spent wandering around, not sure exactly what I’m doing, but sure of what I want to be doing. Writing. Not my thesis. And not timelines for history section. Writing things that won’t be graded. I’ve had enough. I’m done grating myself against the grindstone. It is too high a bar to be happy and healthy and academically competitive all at the same time. Maybe some people can do it; in fact, I see a lot of people claiming they are. These are the people I imagine have three colors of post-it notes on their desk and no mushed banana on their socks. God bless them. Now, I’ll write the papers. I’ll write in the blue books. I’ll do the thing, but I’m not going to pretend it brings me joy. When I leave this place in 201 days, I won’t be looking at some letter of completion or watermarked transcript to guide me as I inch my way into whatever comes next. I’m going to need a sound mind and stable body–scratch that, I’m going to need a loud mind and strong body if I’m going to survive the unstable nature of creative life.
And your 4:01 minutes of music. One of my favorite jams. I had this one playing on repeat today.