If we have a snow day tomorrow, I will get out of bed, move to the couch and watch TV all day. I might bring myself to look at some homework, but it’s very doubtful that I will accomplish anything of overwhelming productivity. At some point, the roads and the weather will clear up and I might be able to convince enough people to leave the house to go see a movie or something. But, more than likely, I will sit inside all day.
If I had a snow day twelve years ago, I would be out of bed earlier than I would have been on a school day. Within the hour I would have my brothers up and going, bundled up and out in the world. Most of the time, the storm that shut school down would still be blowing, and the wind and driving snow would drive us back inside. There, we would wait for the storm to calm down enough for to go romping through the fresh pack. And romp we would. Up the hill and down the hill on homemade sleds and tractor tire tubes we would go until our legs were too tired to motor through the snow. We’d get back inside, out of our wet clothes and to the toys and games that lay neglected during the week while we were locked up in the classroom. And even as the day wore on to its close, the only thing waiting for us was a shorter week than we usually had to tolerate. This was the best, a day as good as it gets, a little slice of freedom smack in the center of the drudging winter semester.
If we get a snow day tomorrow, it will be just be another day where I don’t go to class and sit around like a pile, just like last Monday where I told all my teachers that I had to go home for a family emergency and instead spent the time alternating between watching TV and staring blankly at my computer, consuming the best/worst of the internet. This was a day where I didn’t have to go to school. This was a day where I had no obligations, no responsibilities, no business at hand, the same as any elementary-era snow day. So, why wasn’t I out storming through the neighborhood or ruckusing with my friends? Why wasn’t think 8 hours of freedom being marked in the same rambunctious stripe of activity? Well, obviously it’s because I live in Gifford Park, which is extraordinarily deficient of accessible and acceptable sledding hills. Also, I’m 21 years old, and, no matter what I tell myself, I’m not really the kind of guy who can romp through the snow anymore. I’m too old and too lazy and all the neighbors would look at me funny. But, for the most part, it’s because the sense of freedom isn’t there anymore. When I got the day off from school when I was twelve, it was a free day mandated from some higher power, a gift delivered through my radio and the bottom line ticker on the local news. This was a free day which I had waited for, begged for, prayed for. It was a free day brought on by a congruence of unique circumstances. When I take the day off from class its day off I give myself, a day off delivered by a fib-filled email to my teachers, a temporary reprieve from assuming my responsibilities. This day off is cheap. It is unremarkable in every sense of the world. Instead of being handed a stopgap vacation in which I can revel with the masses, I am shucking off the load I am obligated to carry, I am shying away.
After this realization, I have to ask myself: will this keep happening? I’ve seen the amazing become unincredible before. When I was 8, I would save my money for a month to buy a new G.I. Joe. Now, I can drive to Target and pick up a cartful of them. When I was 15, talking to a cute girl was something I approached with keyed up trepidation and quivering buoyancy. Now, they’re just one more person I have to say hi to on the way class. When I was 19, I pursued the prospect of a 30 pack of Coors Light as hotly as I would keen to a pot of gold. Now, the only thing a case of beer says to me is that it will take me five minutes to drive to Bakers and clip another 20 dollars off my bank account. The things that I used to treasure are becoming commonplace.
I’m 21 years old and I’m a junior in college. Whether I like it or not, the real world has been waiting for me my entire life and, unfortunately, its patience won’t be tested much longer. I feel like I’ve hit my stride somewhat on my jaunt to the mists of tomorrow, but I’m still worried I’m not running on the right track. What if what I want to do is just another snow day? In ten years will this rhetoric and comp stuff still be interesting? I’m worried that the ideals I love and strive to embody will no longer enthrall me once I get to their level. I don’t want to work to get somewhere to realize that I’m bored with where I am. I don’t want that, not one bit, no thank you. I am terrified of the day when I wake up and teaching English isn’t fun anymore, the day where I wake up and the snow day is just a day off. I don’t want to burn out what’s keeping me going.
I’m not sure how I avoid this seemingly inevitable collapse. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I think I just have to keep my head down and keep moving forward. If I’m working to get the things I want, I don’t want to know when I get them. I don’t want the world to stop and tell me, ‘Good job. You did it. This is all you wanted.’ I don’t want to know when I got where I wanted to be or how hard I had to work to get there. I don’t want to know where to find what I want, because then I can just keep repeating myself, getting bored, and going crazy. My childhood was a series of waves of wants and desires rising and falling before a new one hauled up. But now I’m a grown up and I’ve got to ride this wave for awhile, so I’d better make it a God-damn good one.