I’m really not that into melancholy. Drama and desolation and, if we’re being honest, delusion are a little more my bag, as I prefer my negative emotions with a kick of volatility, and maybe a dash of madness. But straight sadness? I find the concept to be a little tiring, a little too one note. Plus, all things considered, my life is pretty freaking awesome, what with the roof over my head, the body that works largely the way it should, the paycheck every other week, and the presence of all those people who love me. What, exactly is there for me to cry about?
I’m not even going to attempt to broach that question here – though I do have some theories – because, in general, I feel like a very lucky, albeit slightly confused and lost, girl these days, and I’m just not really into pity parties.
But the fact of the matter remains: there have been a lot of tears lately.
I cry during the work day. I cry after the work day. I cry on the phone with my mom and my best friend, in the lobby of our building and on the subway platform. I’ve been caught by Matty, Dave, even my friend Jon on a gchat video invitation all the way from Paris. I am a teary, weepy wreck.
Last night, I was muddling through a phone call with my mother, trying once again to dissect the root of my apparent unhappiness, when we settled on a popular train of thought: the fact that I’m a little stuck these days, waiting for a computer to tell me where I’ll end up. One benefit to totally turning into your parents is being able to hear their war stories (though I still consider this cold comfort for the fact that dude, you’re turning into your parents), and so my mother thought back to her own days of waiting for my father to match for residency, match for fellowship, and finally, at the age of 32, find his first job .
The first time around she was applying to law schools across the country, attempting to gain acceptance to one in the city where his internship would be (aka, anywhere and everywhere, since said city is completely unknown until the third Thursday in March.) When the day of reckoning finally rolled around and she found out he had matched in Philadelphia – home to the only law school she hadn’t yet heard from – she (always cool, calm and collected) burst into tears.
When she was waiting to find out where he matched for fellowship, she took on multiple summer associateships in multiple states, just in case.
And when she finally had a full-time job, but was waiting to find out where he would get his first job, she turned to distraction.
“I think that’s when I started quilting,” she said.
She told me she spent her days doing whatever it was that she had to do in order to not get fired, and she spent her nights attempting to steer her thoughts away from the (vast, scary, unknown) future. Getting her mind off all the uncertainty, apparently, meant quilting – and woodworking too. She sewed a queen-sized patchwork masterpiece and she built the cradle that I slept in as a baby and constructed the breakfast bar that’s currently in the corner of the kitchen that Dave and I make our meals in, here in Philadelphia. She lived for trips to the hardware store and time spent using a hand saw or a needle and thread. That was her strategy. That was how she did it.
I don’t think all my crying can be attributed to the looming match, and I do think my mother had a lot more shit figured out than I do – or maybe ever will. (After all, she hadn’t decided to become a “writer.” Who’s brilliant idea was this, anyway?)
Still, I take some comfort in her tales from the other side. I haven’t yet bought a sewing machine, or a saw, but my tears seem to be slowing the tiniest bit, and I’m trying to think less about the future and more about the hobbies that could see me through this winter.
A matching island might look nice in the kitchen, don’t you think?