I should be writing an essay.
I should be making connections between sources in my yellow Honors reader.
I should be finishing my three-page literary masterpiece, answering the question of why I’m at my college.
But instead, I’m here. Talking to you.
Hi. How was your day?
That’s a question that’s begun to annoy me. It’s so surface level. Unless the delivery of that question expresses true interest and invites true answers, I don’t want to hear it.
I want to hear how you’re feeling, how your exam went, how the weather affects your mood. I want to stare at your face and truly contemplate how much I appreciate your existence.
“How was your day?”
No. This isn’t deep enough for me.
Several of my friends are on a technology fast this week. They’ve had a lot of trouble, but I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been enjoying it. I am not on the tech fast. But I like actually talking to people when they don’t have phones in their hands. I like true connection.
“How’s your day going?”
I went to a soup cook-off last week. I critiqued each concoction with vigor, alongside a fellow soup snob. Thought I suppose some of my judgement was uncalled for, since I was almost participating in the competition. I’d found the recipe, and watched over the creation of a spicy taco soup from the doorway of the kitchen.
It was basically a chili. But the team of my friends and their classmate wore crop tops. They were the Spice Girls. One of them was a guy.
“How are you?”
I’ve been playing Dutch Blitz obsessively for the past several weeks. I don’t own the cards. He does. But I ask him to bring them over so much, I probably play more than he does. I love cards.
Cards are connection. Conversations are connection. When I ask how your week was, I want you to spill out your soul. Tell me everything. Tell me the insignificant details. They are significant to me.
I didn’t think having friends would be my problem. But it is. Suddenly, I find myself among friends, not strangers, not acquaintances, but friends. And all I want to do is sit with each of them in the hall and just be.
Or play ukuleles together, or sing along to childhood classics, or talk about the deepest parts of ourselves, or just sit.
But I can’t devote myself to them. And they can’t devote themselves to me.
There are papers to write.
I’ve had three exams in the past two weeks. I am exhausted. I want to go home. I want to sit in the hall with my friends and be. I want to forget that I’m here for an education.
Is this how it begins? Those students who go to college, not for college, but for seeming nothingness?
I cannot be one of those students.
But that doesn’t change my feeling.
It is pleasant to sit in a quiet theater, but more so one that is filled with sound. To sit beside one regarded as dear, and to whisper to one another when the time is right. The actors are splendid, the music grand, did you see her train trapped in the door frame?
Perhaps this is only me.
Perhaps I am not wasting my time here. More poetic lines have flowed from me in these minutes than have flowed all day.
Maybe my essay will be better for it.
Or perhaps I will collapse into my bed, gazing into the world of a good book, even though it is one I have already read.
I must work.
Friends will not change my fundamental feature: I will work.