"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Friday, October 9, 2015

Letters to October #7 + 8

I'll stop taking cliche sky pictures when the sky stops being beautiful

Dear October,
      (This one is extra long and rambly because I missed yesterday!) When I was little I thought adulthood involved two things: routines and coffee shops. Now that I'm 20 years old (verging on 21 oh my god), let's take a closer look at these, shall we?

As a kid I was obsessed with routines. I made up elaborate daily schedules for my toys. I had a tiny plastic bear that I imagined practiced his electric guitar at 5am every morning, much to the consternation of his neighbors. I distinctly remember excitedly suggesting that my parents alternate the days on which they read me bedtime stories. My mom would read to me on one day, then the next day would be my dad's turn, etc. Upon hearing my innovative and time-saving idea, my parents smiled and said something like, "It's more interesting if we mix things up a bit." Part of my love of routines stemmed from the fact that I thought that's what adulthood was like. Adulthood meant structuring your day any way you liked, and that to me meant doing the same thing at the same time every day. It wasn't the monotony that attracted me (shocking, I know); it was the simplicity. I loved the idea of living a simple life, full of simple pleasures. Enjoying breakfast in a light-filled kitchen. Taking long walks with my dog through the forest that I imagined surrounding my little cottage. I would be a regular at a diner where I would eat pie every afternoon.
So. How does my strange little fantasy hold up? While I still value the idea of routines, and try, futilely, to cobble together some kind of relaxing morning routine, my picture of an ideal life has changed drastically. Now, I value change and movement just as much as I value time management. I want to travel. I want to experience new things, live in several different cities, and most of all, I no longer crave the so called "simplicity" of rigorously structured days. Maybe when I'm retired and living in the idyllic town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, or some hamlet in the wild hills of Ireland, I will be ready to embrace my childlike longing for sameness. I must admit, eating pie every afternoon doesn't sound bad at all.

Coffee Shops
If there's one thing that came to my young mind when I pondered the mysteries of adulthood, it was coffee shops. Coffee shops, in no uncertain terms, symbolized freedom. I imagined my adult self meeting up with my adult best friend at a coffee shop in New York City (don't ask me how this relates to my vision of simplicity and the cottage in the woods), where we would have wild creative notions and sketch award-winning ideas onto napkins. I thought adults spent the majority of their time in coffee shops. I thought that this was how most people got work done. And all of this boundless creativity was fueled by a marvelous black drink that I hadn't quite developed a taste for yet. (Though I started drinking coffee much earlier than most kids).
Today, coffee shops still hold a special kind of magic. The most ordinary of days can be made interesting by a good conversation in a coffee shop. It seemed fitting that the first place I drove to without my mom in the passenger seat after I'd gotten my licensee was my local coffee shop. Even for a fleeting moment, my vision of adulthood was a little bit true. Now, I'm fascinated by the societal and creative context of coffee shops: how we use them, what role they play in society, and why they've inspired so many great minds. While I know that adulthood (and independence) doesn't consist solely of afternoons spent in coffee shops, I think my younger self would be happy to know that a visit the coffee shop across the street from campus weekly (lets be real: several times a week). It's nice to know I've lived up to my younger self's expectations, even in the tiniest way possible.

These are my jumbled thoughts on adulthood. In addition to pondering my past self and her unrealistic (and frankly bizarre) expectations, I finished reading the fabulous Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge and started reading How to Be Both by Ali Smith. It's giving me a lot to think about, and I absolutely adore being immersed in words. That's one thing that's never changed.


Song of the day: Clay and Cast Iron by Darlingside (from their new album!)

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