On Filling Vacancies

After butchering the grapefruit, chopping two handfuls of blueberries into uneven and oozing halves, creating a chaotic, sticky mess, and rinsing the smoothie cup with unadulterated fury, I nearly lost all composure at the realization that we were out of bananas. Like most “last straws”, the discovery came as an unprecedented, almost unbearable, blow and I had to scrounge up all reserves to keep my cool. Doggedly, I sought out the honey and milk, popped the ice cubes from their trays with unnecessary vengeance. The resulting smoothie was decent, if not a bit to the sour side.

I am a bit out of sorts this July. I had cut short a trip abroad, for the sake of “practicality”, for the sake of “making money instead of spending it”, for the sake of “thinking of the future.” I left and returned in  a grand impulsive flurry. There were no jobs waiting for me at home. I did not despair. I whipped out phone and laptop, scavenging the web, chewing madly on mango-flavored gum all the while. The air outside hung hot and muggy, a sweaty and unyielding grip. I didn’t want to venture out for too long, mostly for fear of  being slapped in the face by all of NYC, its traffic and tourists and skyscrapers- all of the familiar mess I thought I had left just a few weeks ago.

My friends are all busy. Their schedule hold their days secure, fill their weeks with ease; sometimes I faintly dread hanging out with them come evenings, being forced face to face with their productive and useful selves… I have little appointments, no paychecks, no dates, and few volunteering outlets.

And I am so angry. I am really, bone- deep mad. I am mad at waiting, the art that always comes so hard to me, that comes to me so often. I am mad that I get lost at times inside of screens, inside of  Facebook and WordPress and Tumblr. I am mad that I just can’t seem to get a perfect coffee anymore, or even sushi for that matter, and that I can’t find a good enough novel or memoir, or even just a decent movie; in fact I can’t seem to find ANYTHING to soothe the anger, and it makes me even angrier.

I want to work hard, sleep little, laugh free and discover new people. I want to stumble upon new and electrifying music, new rocks to sit on at Coney Island beach, new ice cream parlors and musty thrift shops huddled snugly in tiny corners off the main streets. I want to fill something I feel gaping inside me, an aching lacuna in the gut. At the grand and slightly underrated age of 19, I was certain I had left most of the existential angst and general unexplainable agony of high school behind. It’s already my third summer out, and my months so far have been certainly faster, calmer and more fulfilling. Well, till now. Till I became a half crazed beast again, confounding all the rational and cool-minded people around me.

It is important to note that there are thousands of methods to fill yourself. There are hobbies, clubs where you interact with people who share your interests, there are shopping endeavors, bars, museums and boat rides. There is always work, or study, or interning or volunteering, and these generally work better than the methods mentioned earlier. That is because, for the most part, your individuality is compromised to some extent, and you melt a bit into the general mass of the people you are working with, and that numbs a bit of your personal worries and passions; you are now focused on the collective and its bigger and more urgent needs and wants. It is also pretty effective to devote yourself to people who need you (the most obvious example being children), as you will feel needed, and your importance validated. All of these methods work, until they don’t.

Until you hit a point somewhere along the way and you are horrified by the discovery that you can barely stand living inside your skin, that there is some kind of pulsating lack within you that you have ignored and now all of a sudden you can’t. It’s different when you are older, and I cannot pinpoint exactly how because I am far from there yet. But it happens all the time in high school and in college and there seems little to do but rage… All the memories and grievances we’ve long buried resurface, the world trembles in the periphery of our vision, we want to watch something burn.

In reality, I think, you just have to wait for it to pass. There is, of course, reason for introspection and reappraisal of where we are heading, and what we are doing, and how ok we are with us. But there is another truth to be considered. In truth, we are blazing and unlimited infernos, held inside bodies, bound in our skin, limited so much by time and space and the laws of physics. Doesn’t it make sense for our selves to sometimes rebel? And perhaps that is all it should be treated as: a fast and furious rebellion, that will subside gradually and entirely, on its own.

And the other truth is, that you DO matter- that you matter a whole LOT, actually. There are people who care about you, enjoy your company, and -whether they admit it or not- miss you sometimes. There is no way to measure the entirety of a person’s value, and it seems we forget that so often. We forget that every thought carries  tremendous weight, that every action ripples throughout the gigantic universe, we forget that there are skies and dogs and trees and  chocolates and trains and bridges, created for us, sometimes even by us. We forget that there is so much breakage in the world and that we can be fixers. We forget that our smiles can reside in another human’s mind for years, that our words can construct kingdoms and vanquish dragons; we forget who we are. We forget that perhaps the holes inside of us don’t have to be filled, that they may just be the fuel needed to drive us on, drive us cross-country, cross ocean, cross statistics and probability, cross racial and cultural divides. We forget that we need to be pushed forward sometimes. We forget sometimes, that we are still doors waiting to be unlocked, secrets waiting to be found, vacancies waiting to be filled.


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