Sunday, April 20, 2008

What happens when you stare at a screen and the dam finally breaks....

So, I made the decision this weekend that I'm not staying on another year in Philadelphia. I'm relieved, but not happy. In a way, it feels like I've failed. I've failed at moving out and supporting myself on my own. Now, I have to crawl back to my parents house and live there and save money before I try again. In reality it's nothing like that. My parents would most likely have helped me pay the few bills that I needed help with, and supported me as I needed for at least another year at which time I might have been able to save up enough to keep on making a go of it. No, I wouldn't have had a big nest egg to work with, if any.... but who does now? I read so often about friends who are making it paycheck to paycheck, moving around restlessly, searching desperately for roommates to bring the bills down to a barely reasonable level, and part of me thinks, "yeah, that's what this time of life is all about".

But then Vulcan logic kicks in and I remember a piece of advice I once gave to a girl I thought I was going to marry. This was my High School Sweetheart and we were both going through college application craziness. She was applying to a whole bunch of schools that she really wanted to get into and taking it as seriously as most guidance counselors tell most high school students they should. I, on the other hand, hadn't yet even begun to fill out my one page application to community college because I knew I was going there and they don't reject anyone, so why worry?

In retrospect, I think she resented me for that. We planned to take our SAT's on the same day so we could go to the park after we had finished. She went to bed early that night before, ate a breakfast and was there 20 minutes early, just like her Princeton Review course had told her to be. I didn't take any courses, didn't go to bed any earlier, slept in too late, and went to take the test in the shorts and t-shirt that I had slept in. My bed-head conveniently camouflaged under a New York Yankees baseball cap.

She, being a music major (the first of many major changes), had the benefit of an audition where she could prove that she was better than her SAT's said she was. I knew that's where she would shine. I could listen to her sing for hours (less if she chose to sing soprano, but when she sang alto... endless), smile watching her connect with 3-5 year old's until my face was sore, or drift into such a peaceful state listening to her flute echo throughout the church sanctuary. Being with her, made me know that if no other quality, being musically inclined would be one of the quickest ways into my heart.

I digress. She had a contact, a teacher, at her first choice school who her father played with regularly in a band. He mentioned to her father, knowing her talent was more than tests and grades showed, that if she ever decided to come to his school to let him know and he'd help her out. Now, this wouldn't have disproportionately advantaged her against any other applicant, rather, leveled the playing field so to speak. My advice to her at the time (spoken with a heavy grain of religious salt) was that, "[If God] had given you this contact, this ability, isn't it unnecessarily handicapping yourself [and going against God's Will] not to use everything you've been given to accomplish what you want?"

As luck, chance, [God?] would have it, I was born to extraordinary parents, who have enough confidence in how they raised me that they will selflessly give to me above and beyond the call of other parents knowing I won't let them down. Was I entirely out of money for living in Philly? No. Between no interest offers and loans from friends who'd I'd loaned large amounts of money in the past, could I make it? Yes. Would it be easy and would I have much, besides saying I lived in Philly for 2 years, to show for it? No. So I'd be 2 years behind in what life should be [I guess], and have little if any savings to start some real attempt at a stable life because frankly, working 35 hours a week, and commuting 30 hours a week at a minimum is not realistic for anyone.

DS called it before I even really felt it. She knew that this was ridiculous and that I need to stop being whatever I was being and do what needed to be done. As we sat in the Vietnamese place for lunch, "So you're not happy with life at the moment"
"You're not happy with your commute and overall lack of free time."
"You're not even happy with the way you look or feel physically."
"Then what the hell are you doing?"
And of course, she was right. I think my trip out to see her was the first step, and my weekend spent at home, just at home this past weekend was the second and final step. I've got someplace to go home too which I've always had. I'm already in the routine of paying out for rent, utilities, etc, so now I can keep that up and just pay it right into a savings account (which my father has agreed to keep so I'm not stupid with the extra money floating around). I'm used to missing 30 hours a week, so now I can take that time, put an extra 2 a day to sleeping (bringing it from 4 hours a night back up to 6ish) and focus those other 4 hours on creative endeavors. I'm going to start keeping a "creative log" of sorts to make sure I don't squander my newfound time on stupid things, like getting lost on the Internet or something else unproductive. I want to try painting. I want to get back to writing music. I need to have 8,000 words in an intelligible novelette or few chapters of a novel by June 30th for a week long Science Fiction writing seminar I want to attend. I'd like to put Linux on my laptop, and make it fully functional on my desktop. I'd like to go rock climbing with Superman again. I'd like to not run myself into the ground during the week, and have to sleep at 12 hour clips on the weekend to catch up.

And now, that it's 3:49ish and I've managed to combine what looks like at least 3 individual posts in to one (possibly) semi-coherent ramble, I'm going to sleep. I'm also reserving the right to edit this once I'm awake and, well... awake.


B2G said...

Wow, lots going on. Sounds like you made the right choice. I know exactly what it's like. Being on your own isn't worth the paycheck to paycheck and crappy roommate situations. Seriously.