Friday, January 06, 2006

Who needs a line?

All right, here goes.

I'm back. With an empty bank account and a head full of Sweden, I have returned to sunny Nebraska. I mean that sunny bit. It's unsettling; the day I left Stockholm dear Mother snowed sideways on me. Tonight, though, a thin layer of frost settled on my poor old car, and add to that all my things are in boxes again and I feel downright comfortable with the state of the universe.

Tomorrow I'm moving into my new apartment, which is wood flooring, a sweet balcony and generally light years ahead of the sardine can I called home last year, downtown in the Spaghetti Works building. And I have one job now, 15 hours a week or so entry data and so forth for my old friends at the Admissions Office. It won't be enough. Evening employment here I come.

That, in itself, is not whatsoever a regrettable notion. Yet I feel a great unease in my life. They say it's harder to adjust back to your old life than your temp one in a foreign land, and while I consider myself immune to many such generalities, I've afraid this one might catch me by the tail.

I'm depressed. For a number of reasons. There are of course the petty ones, such as the final paper for a class back in Sweden and my newfound bankruptcy. So it goes.

More than that, however, I'm feeling utterly lost. The trite standards about finding yourself on an overseas journey aren't so much wrong as they are completely opposite. All I managed was to lose myself. I'm getting a journalism degree this semester and I don't want to work for a newspaper anymore. I'm got a great new apartment, yet already harbor an intense desire to get out of Lincoln, fast, and never come back. I've been largely aloof for four months from the DN, the thing which I dove headlong into, and, for better and worse, largely sourced my identity for the better part of two years. I would like to do something there this term, if only for the old friends and the wee bit of cash, but this will be the first time in a while I will be in Lincoln and not a major player. The first time in a while I've had the free time and the raw nerve to ask myself "who am I without the DN?"

Oh, yeah, and "what the fuck am I going to do with my life?"

Most of this week found me sorting through the past, buried in dusty cardboard boxes torn at the top and stacked in my parents' unfinished basement. Some stored actual useful stuff I needed, but a lot consisted of old relics -- the kind of things from years past that you don't want but know you shouldn't throw out. Scrapbook-type of stuff.

Anyone who knows me now knows I don't deal well with the past, specifically pre-collegiate time. Four days after graduation I drove away from the shithole I had to call home for far too long, and mile by mile it was just as much of a spiritual journey for me, into the self-reinvention everyone seeks now and then. I totally divorced myself from that time, and now it keeps trying to stick its nose back into the nice little thing I have going up here. High school classmates find me on facebook, Christian camp programs and CCM CDs jump out of their dank confines to remind me of someone I am now more than a little embarrased of and would like my distance from.

The CDs and books are going to the Mission Thrift Mart; whether that lets me shake them off remains to be seen. But one thing is clear to me: I can deal neither with the future nor the past without locking up in a panic attack. Deep down I think I'm scared that college student is the only role I'm really good at, and when I put on the stupid cap and gown and they make me leave, I'll go back to being miserable and alone.

I'm starting to think more and more about doing Peace Corps or something, not only because it's worth doing, but also that I feel like I need a major change in my life right now, just to break out of this funk I can feel myself slipping into minute by minute.

On the plus side, "Tommy" is on. Maybe I'll just get great at pinball.


Chris Jones said...

Leaving Oklahoma was the same for me--the last thing I did when I quit my job at OBU was wash my hands in the employee restroom, and that night Elissa and I went out for a drink, just to celebrate the fact that, for the first time, we could do so publicly in Shawnee.

I usually have to be pretty liquored up to talk about my CCM days. And I wasn't even a teenager at the time--that's a more valid defense.

Elissa said...

I'm just going to sit back, beat my students (see blog entry for today), and wait for you to take over the world. God knows I'm never going to be the interesting or successful sibling. But on the plus side, there's always a couch in Madison and a potential career at the Onion for you.