I sat on the bed this morning, intermittently tinkering with my hair and applying my makeup, getting ready for work. Billy left HGTV on when he went to the shower, so I heard Bob Vila's replacement detailing the renovation of somebody's old house. All of the guys doing in the work in the home caressed the old hardwood floors lovingly, sanding out the grooves and stains of a hundred years, making it all new again. When they ran out of time, a gardening show came on. A plump woman in her forest of roses talked about being a prize-winning gardener, chatting with the host of the show about how to grow your own menagerie of flowers, finding the species indigenous to your area instead of the ones you want to grow. She held out her little hand and grasped the head of the rose closest to her as she spoke, fondling its petals with her stubby fingers, the pride evident in her voice. Last night, Billy's cousin was over, and we sat in the kitchen over a grilled dinner and talked about work. He feels guilty, he says, for getting paid for what amounts to what feels like playing with computers all day. He's actually doing something he loves, so much so that it doesn't feel like work.
I don't love what I do. Not enough, anyway, to feel guilty for getting paid to do it. And I can't refinish ancient hardwood floors, and I don't get my manicured hands in the dirt, I don't dabble in flora and fauna. I don't have anything I'm passionate about. Besides this.
And events in my recent history have stifled my ability to talk about it. Bragging about my blog, as silly and self-absorbed as it is, has only gotten me into trouble. So I don't talk about it. Better to not mention it than run the risk of yet another person reading it and getting offended.
So that just leaves me with work. And I think: Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? Writing out paychecks and enter bills into a computer? Looking forward to managing payroll? But then what? What is it that I'd rather be doing instead? The sad truth of it is, I don't know. There's nothing that captures my attention, my passion, my soul. Nothing that I can actually see myself doing. And if I have no clear designs of something else, why rock the boat?
I go through this a few times a year. I look at my life, my 25th year, take stock in all I have and what I do and decide that it's not enough. That I should quit work and go back to school. Find something, some career that challenges me beyond logging checks properly into the computer. Go and learn something. I loved school. I could meet people. I could better myself. And at least then, when someone asks me where I went to college, I wouldn't have to hit them with my well-rehearsed speech about going part time to West Point Military Academy, where Mount Saint Mary's college offered courses on post, taught by West Point professors, accelerated courses that saw me through my technical junior year, where I finally quit because I was going to get married and couldn't juggle classes and planning a wedding. I wouldn't have to say that I took a year off and never quite got back into the swing of things...All just to avoid the half-truth that I really didn't go.
I know I'm smart enough to do whatever I want. I lack no faith in my mental capacity for knowledge, for learning, for comprehension. The problem with all of this second guessing and worrying and thinking about change is that I just can't give it up. I can't give up my free time, the extra money in my checking account. The feeling of independence I have. The fact that if it doesn't work out with Billy, I'll have my own funds to fall back on. The fact that I may need a new starter on my car, and I don't have to worry about how I'll pay for it, or worry about asking someone to help me. I guess, more appropriately, I don't want to.
Perhaps the problem with quitting now and diving back into school would be admitting that I made the wrong choice all those years ago. It would be me saying I was wrong. That I should've gone straight to college from high school, as scared of it as I was. That I shouldn't have dropped out when I was planning to get married. Or, at the very least, I should've gone back. Leaving what I do now behind and moving on would be tantamount to saying I'm not happy with the way things are, that I've made bad choices. That I'm not proud of who I am. And it hurts too much to say that, out loud or implied.
What I'd like to do, all I'd like to do, is this: Write. And I'd like to be allowed to be proud of it, to talk about how thrilling it is to write something really good, to get comments, to find a site that's linked me. I'd like to write about posting my new Perm Picture, about my borderline funny entries, my sad ones, everything. But I just feel like I can't. Because this is such a source of controversy. Save for my mother and a few friends, I leave this blog out of my conversations entirely.
I need a hobby. Something I'm good at that I can talk about. A writing class. A green thumb. A flair for computers. A sure hand with a sander. Something. Because that something is missing right now. And that emptiness is tangible. The space where some passion should lie is hollow, throbbing with its own vacancy. I need an occupant.