The Threadbare Room
When I started this job a year ago, I had $4 left in my bank account. This is the closest to poor I have ever been. For me this was a shameful and terrifying experience that precipitated a prolonged bout of insomnia. As I stood on the precipice of what some call “adulting”, this was the lowest point of my life. Of course, it was only really the beginning.
A year on, my life has once again been completely transformed. But this story begins a little further back in time. First you must understand that my parents are quintessentially blue-collar. By this I mean that I believe they work too hard for too little than their skills and experience warrant. I have so much respect for them, and as an adult, I have come to appreciate the numerous sacrifices it must have taken to raise a child and provide her with as many opportunities as the ones I was given. You see, my mother believes in three things: the value of an education, travel, and above all else—me. No expense was spared so I could have the life that they never could. Likewise, my goal has always been to that end, by excelling in school. I used to think that my greatest fear was mediocrity, but I now recognize that it is actually poverty, or perhaps financial uncertainty, that I am most afraid of.
In 2018, I built my life from the ground up. Many people say that the school years are the best part of one’s life, but for me working life has been so liberating and empowering. I love the work I do, the people around me I sincerely feel, have built me up as much as I hope that I have helped them to grow. But of course, the vicissitudes of life are never too far away and for a period of time, I felt as I did back in 2017.
In a whirlwind, everything I had held to be true for most of my life has become undone, unfurled, unbound. Now, I look around at this empty home, and I think about what it means to vacate, vacating, a vacation—perhaps of the mind? Freedom from obligations, and loneliness are but two sides of the same coin, and healing is a slow, but steady journey.
Sometimes, I think about all the relationships in my life that could have been salvaged if people had the maturity or presence of mind to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I will try to do better next time.” But to the same degree that our personal suffering is not for the vicarious consumption of the public, not every adult is really much more than a child. And I am truly amazed by the narratives that people will tell themselves so that they don’t have to face themselves and can sleep better at night.
Hardship has been a powerful filter, helping me to clarify for myself who my dearest friends really are. As we grow older, I’m learning that we build our own families, and this has so far been the greatest blessing of adulthood.
Jeanette says it best:
“This is where the story starts, in this threadbare room. The walls are exploding. The windows have turned into telescopes. Moon and stars are magnified in this room. The sun hangs over the mantelpiece. I stretch out my hand and reach the corners of the world. The world is bundled up in this room. Beyond the door, where the river is, where the roads are, we shall be. We can take the world with us when we go and sling the sun under your arm. Hurry now, it's getting late. I don't know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields.”
So what lies ahead? Adventures I hope, with the people I love the most in the world. If I have nothing else, that would be more than enough.