Mountains upon Mountains
I feel terrible. I look terrible. And this room. With its scattered, half-empty boxes and broken glass on top of a whole. Its black bags and wrinkled suits. Its thin paths of carpet flanked by shirts and socks. It all looks terrible. And then there’s this bed. With me in it. My head pressed upon this pillow and my mouth slightly agape. This scratchy throat. And this sensation I get when I close my eyes. Like I’m moving without moving. The hammers above and the music pounding in the other room seem to build upon each other. And this phrase shakes itself off of the refuse – mountains upon mountains. Like mountains upon mountains.
The sunlight streams in on the other side of the wall. I can see that orange juice I bought last night within arm’s length. Half gone. And the backside of a meager collection of bourbon I haven’t touched for too long. And there’s that page hung by two blue tacks above the sink. Nine words written in the restless emptiness of a September night and tacked to the wall with dutiful thoughts more than pride. It was the first semester of law school then. It seems like it was so long ago.
They say law school moves fast. That’s not a lie, you know. It moves faster than you’d ever believe. Time’s a river and all that. September is the best time here. I like the Fall here more than back home. The leaves turn this magnificent color before dying. Before I go back home, I’m going to take a picture of it. Dad always said I needed to take more pictures.
That first September. You still don’t know anyone. Not really. The thrill of the people. The…thaumazein of the law. It’s still there. The wonder of the place of the fact that you got here. It’s still there. All of you are still pioneers. People from different places that you’d never meet otherwise. You’re all put together on the same starting point. On the same track. And in September, in that one September that matters to all of you, you can barely hear the sound of the popgun going off above the chattering and the friendship building. Hammers upon nails and mountains upon mountains. Where do we go? Which ones do we climb? Which bridges should we build? Which ones should we cross? All those questions and all those doubts seemed silenced by the leaves tumbling downward.
My story ends well here. I’ll graduate. I’ll get a job. Maybe. I’ll have made more friends than I could have possibly believed. When I got here, I was lonely. When I graduated high school and my friends went elsewhere, I remember waiting at a stoplight and looking as the cars sped past. Isn’t that Adam? Isn’t that Steph? And then it would be gone. Just a streak of movement instantly forgotten. When I got here I felt that way too. I’d see someone in the distance, just far enough, just close enough. Is that Spencer? Is that Matt? And I knew already that it wasn’t. And we’d walk past. And I’d say hello. You do that enough times and you’ll find out about someone. I decided that I’d make enough friends here to make it close enough to being like home. And I succeeded. Now, I have the very best of friends. Those days when I’d come back from class and just stare off from the balcony, my mind rolling and wringing an invisible stone in its hand, wondering how I’d make along with these fellows and wondering always about my friends back home. Those days are gone.
So why? Why do I still feel like shit when I’m alone? Like something’s wrong. Like something’s missing. Do I want to go back home and help the people there? I can do that, if I want. Just as soon as I graduate. Do I want to go back to the country, where that old man and the old woman are from and help the people there? I can do that. I can do that now. And I can still drive off and see Mom and Dad sometimes if I want, if I live there. Maybe I want to go further. Do I want to go where Mom came from? Further north? In that small town of churches and farms? We can go there. We can help the folks there, if we want. With this damned degree, I'm going to get I can do all those things. And I have friends I care about. On paper (sans transcript), everything's fine. So why?
That September was before I knew about Dad's cancer. It was before the old woman died. It was before I saw the old man, with his smoke rising up forever. It was back when things seemed simple. When there was so much potential for things. When I could prove something to people, prove something to myself. I could do this. I could be the best person in that office.
Dad’s fine now. The old woman died and I wasn’t there. But she knew where I was going. Nowadays, it seems like she was more sure about me than I am of myself. But now, there’s nothing of any consequence here. I have a job this summer. The one I wanted. But does that prove anything? Did I just get lucky? Won’t I just screw it up? Is it going to be like being here – that splintered and soiled wheel I wrote about months ago – where I spin and spin and go nowhere? (And I have no right to complain or feel small, I know) It doesn’t matter what I do. Class is of no consequence. Grades are of no consequence. Nothing I do in any class has any bearing on what happens next. The whole portrait of purely academic life here seems drained of passion and color and then drowned in booze. Before I thought I was intellectually lazy or perhaps, and what a relief it would be, I was just stupid (at least then I could be comforted knowing I never could do this). But now I’m just intellectually dead. I just don't care. I’m not sure which is worse.
Some days I think of these things. Most days I don’t. I just go from class to class. I greet my friends and I go on. One of the days I thought like this was the day I met Bill Watterson for the first time. I grabbed that piece of paper and placed it in my bag. Later. I thought. I asked some people who Watterson is and told them how I found this. I should find out who accidentally left this and return it to them. But I don’t know who to give it to. So it sits there. I don’t have time to read the thing. Same way I didn’t have time to sit down and beat this cold when I felt it coming on. I had other things to do. I wanted to feel like I had run myself ragged. Just the way I like it. And carpetbomb this place with promises that I won’t keep.
Like the promise to write. Which means a promise to write terribly. To write useless things that mean nothing. If this cold hadn’t caught up with me, gotten me to skip class and rest I still would be avoiding this. But it caught me. But now...I think I’m going to rest for a bit.
Last edited by T1_loser on Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.