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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My Substitute for Religion

Everybody has some place they can go when the complexities of the world begin to wear on them, and if they don't they really should. I wish I could write here about some very deep experience where I go to the inner District and have some cross cultural bonding, or go to a place of great historical significance with which I can personally associate. But I can't. My storm celler from the banality is a grocery store called SuperFresh.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to balance school, working multiple jobs and being the president of a debate team all while keeping my sanity and some semblance of a personal life as yet distinct from the above entities. Often this has resulted in very long days, and short but restless nights culminating in repeatng the cycle of living my days in a fugue state. Every day I've gotten up dreading the twelve hours of daylight, taking solace in the two hours between class and work where I could sit back and marinate, but as time wears on the two hours begins to be more like one, and the catharsis I previously found in it seems to have been replaced by an angst which is aggrivated by the contrast between what I want to be doing and what I am.

Something happened, today, though. I opened my eyes and looked at the ceiling, but instead of a vague unease prodding at the back of my mind to get up and get dressed and start it over again, I simply didn't feel like it. Instead there was the vague desire to get something with strawberries to eat. So I got out of bed, turned off my phone and my alarm clock (conveniently, I use my phone as an alarm clock, making this process pretty efficient) and went back to bed. When I woke up again four hours later, I expected a wave of guilt for shirking my responsibilities, but the most I felt to that end was a sort of uneasiness at not feeling guilty. I felt perfectly calm.

To that end, I took a shower, and I put on a blue t-shirt and some khaki shorts and went to the aforementioned grocery store. I'm honestly not sure why this place is the one which acts as my security blanket. With its high ceilings and familiar soundtrack (they've been playing the same six songs for roughly two years now), it's been the only really consistent backdrop for the comedy of my tenure in College Park. I've gone there at, literally, all hours of the day and night for every imaginable purpose. I once went with my past housemate just to buy a lottery ticket becuase I had a bad day, and assumed that meant that I had built up enough luck or whatever you call it to work kharma for some cash. I won my $2 back, but more importantly, it confirmed to me at that moment that nothing else bad was going to happen to me. This is what I do instead of seeing a psychiatrist.

While there I got a strawberry-rhubarb pie (which I am halfway through eating as of the time of this writing) and half a pound of roast beef. While waiting in line at the deli I had to stand behind a guy in a military dress uniform. He looked incredibly disciplined and was probably, at that moment, the exact opposite of me, standing there in Adidas sandles and a wrinkled shirt, unshaven and with my hair in as close to a fro as it's possible for my relatively close cropped, suburban white-boy hair to be, and it occurred to me that this contrast is why the draft is a silly idea. Any system which deems this guy and me as equally fit for military service is probably missing a few screws somewhere. Trust me on this one, you don't want the guy contemplating eating a pie with his hands while waiting in line mid-afternoon at a grocery store deli protecting your freedoms.

I realize it sounds silly to people who haven't experienced it, but this is theraputic in the same way painting might be for some people. I've only ever been comfortable with being unconventional as a means for making up for being average in so many other respects, and things had gotten to the point where there was too much structure to allow for me be the person I want to be. If my life were a book, it would be the owners manual for an Apple IIe, and that's simply unacceptable. Everything I've liked about recent life has been things I've done on my own terms, and it's time for me to get back to that.

I checked out, and on my way home I drove with my windows down and my stereo turned way up.

cranked out at 1:24 PM | |

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