Hard Turn

Illustration by Gizelle Panton

Life had just taken a turn. It does that occasionally.

And here I am, fresh off my first year and not willing in the least to do anything about it. Employment pressures float over my head in a way I anticipated, and in my quieter moments, it always hits me that I bring all this misfortune on myself. Had I cared enough to not flounder my meager efforts over the course of the cushiest year of my life, I might have something to show for no accomplishments.

As the shy sun started coming out of its cloudy shell to illuminate all the kids and burn-outs left in this town after finals silently concluded, a different phase of life blossomed before my tired eyes. Drudgery of a kind I was until now unfamiliar with was about to begin; swing in full force, smack us into a stupor of poor sleeping habits and energy drinks. Us, being the ones refusing to throw up our hands and get driven home; the staying ones. The ones who decided it would be more worth it to dissolve our summer away toiling for food and rent money than try to endure our families for any longer than a weekend. We, the ragged and stoned, worshiping our computers, who slumber never and breathe more smog than air; we inherit a town drenched in congratulatory platitudes and useless intellectual idealism. So useless, in fact, that it only begets the beauties of nihilism and late-night burrito runs. Nobility that we assumed was a part of the welcoming package ended up being merely the glossy coating over a town of terrified elders and keg parties.

We stay and study the dichotomy of cobblestone and concrete, the difference between butterflies and hair bows and the meaning behind chicken churros. We stay and beg to occupy the greasy grab-bag jobs left alone by escaping graduate students. We stay and sleep until the chickadees call out our favorite musical riffs, asking us to come out of dive-bar concerts down the street. We stay and lick our wounds, eat our bloated words and devour our expectations of the world beyond a hometown bedroom window. We stay and keep the grimy bus seats warm.

We stay until life takes another turn and tells us we’re wrong again. It does that occasionally.