Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Whether the Weather

There's a common question that's always bothered me: Would you rather live in hot weather all the time or cold weather all the time? I've always answered, "Cold, because if it's cold you can always put on layers, but when it's hot, there's not much you can do."

This summer, living in Sacramento, I've realized I really like hot weather. I love the feeling of sun on my skin, the sweet cool relief of air conditioning, wearing crop tops, eating ice cream. I don't like cold numb toes, layers upon layers of jackets, dry skin and watering eyes, dark grey skies.

But it's more than just a temperature preference, it's a revelation on how I am so limited by what I think is right, without taking into consideration what I actually want. There are fun things that I've put aside because there's serious business I know I need to take care of, and before I knew it, I passed all my time without doing anything I really wanted to do.

That's how I spent high school: putting grades, tests, and extracurriculars before dances, relationships, going out with friends, and doing fun things. Thinking of what I missed out on is my biggest regret. The times I look back on and remember that I was happiest are the classes I skipped to get burgers with friends, the spontaneous drives up a hill to watch the sunset, and later at night coming back down that hill blasting music and standing out of the top of the car sunroof. Years from now, I won't remember what grade I had in a class, or what AP classes I took, but I know I will remember if I was happy or not, and unfortunately, in the case of high school, the answer is no.

I'm desperate to not make that same mistake in college. 

There's a post on Humans of New York that has always stuck with me. In it, a young woman sitting on a suitcase explains:
"I wish I'd partied a little less. People always say 'be true to yourself.' But that's misleading, because there are two selves. There's your short term self, and there's your long term self. And if you're only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."

So far, I've been having the opposite problem. I'm so preoccupied with the long term that I've neglected to take care of myself in the short term. Occasionally it gets so bad that I forget to eat, sleep, drink water, all the very basic necessities of life.

It's something my parents passed down to me. They would never put "My child is an honor student" stickers on the minivan because it could lower the resale value — even though two consecutive minivans were totaled in crashes. My future was always a ticking time bomb of what if's. My entire life, I was told to prepare for the day I turned 18, when I would be a "real" adult and everything I knew would change. That didn't happen. "Sacrifice now and reap the rewards later."

But there's always a later. The now is gone in a blink of an eye.

It was 8pm and we had just finished a long day of meetings and work. We got Chipotle because you're supposed to eat beforehand otherwise it'll hurt more. We drove to the parlor, a random one Patrick found on Yelp with a good rating, that was still open late at night. They neglected to tell me to bring an ID, so I had to be driven home to grab my passport. I came back and I wrote it out a million times on a piece of printer paper, and it still wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and the artist printed it on my arm and asked me a million times if I was okay with it, and I almost settled because I was tired but he wiped it off and let me spill my thoughts that it would look better rotated just two degrees clockwise, so he printed it again and it looked right. It's my own handwriting. It's not perfect. But I'm happy with the results.

This summer the theme was to "Go For Your Goals." The faculty would ironically say it every time someone was about to make a bad decision. I used the phrase to buoy my confidence getting into the car to go to the tattoo parlor. But there's a soft edge of authenticity to it. I've always wanted to dye my hair, to get a tattoo, but I was always worried about what future employers might think, or what my friends might think in doing something so drastically out of character. But hair can be cut and regrown. A tattoo can be covered in a variety of manners. If my friends can't handle a little tattoo, why should they still be my friends? Clearly, it's something that means a lot to me. It is a reminder that this is real. It is my acceptance of my panic attacks, it is a tribute to a program that may no longer be there next year, an ode to impermanence etched into my skin, because a tattoo may be "permanent" but I am not.

Who cares that the apartment decorations will have to come down at the end of the year? I still have a whole year to enjoy them on the wall, and that itself is worth the little effort it takes to put them up. Order the pretty headphones. They're cheap, and they might break, but they'll do for now, and you'll like them. Invest in a goddamn iClicker, even if you never use it again, you can always resell it. You're spending more money renting one every year anyway. Get Spotify Premium! Life's too short to waste time on ads! Date people! It doesn't matter that you're probably not going to marry them! Be happy! Abandon logic and feel something again! (Can you tell I'm screaming at myself at this point?)

Getting a tattoo is never a logical decision. I've tried to plan what I would get and where, but that day, I was tired and frustrated and I wasn't thinking. It just happened.

Seize the now. Live boldly. Everything will be okay. ◊

No comments:

Post a Comment