People Watching

I pretend to people watch behind sunglasses and watch the middle distance trying to see how long I can sit there breathing and calm before I remember where I am. It’s bizarre to be part of a co-ed campus again. To live on one (and living is synonymous with working in this world we’ve built up around capitalist productivity). To be adjacent to its culture at all times. It is different in ways I can’t put into words but I am always aware. Or maybe it goes deeper than that.

I am an outsider, an interloper with an oxbow across my shoulder advertising my singular strangeness. I look the part but I am not one of you. Is it possible to have Imposter Syndrome when you’ve accomplished nothing of inherent value? Is that thought a sign of the Syndrome? Am I a walking collection of pathologies?

I like to think I am more than the sum of my parts but paradoxically I cannot find peace with anything that lacks clear cut lines.

I’m not quite right for my age.

There is no mellowing out for me to do. I’ve had no unbound youth– I’ve skipped over it all. I have a degree that is utterly useless to me and an office job with benefits. I go to bed by 10 on weekends. My budget is laid out nicely on a spreadsheet of my own design. I have to monitor my health closely thanks to an unwelcome slew of vascular problems caused by bad luck and birth control.

I’ve settled firmly into middle age at 23. In a matter of days, 24.

I read about other people whose lives are more interesting than mine and I feel like I am failing, like I will wake up tomorrow and somehow become fascinating, like I am ungrateful for not being satisfied with this which is a dream out of reach for so many. All I do instead is write, work, wait. Interspersed with intervals of watching time pass me by as I waste it. This is supposed to be recovery from a traumatic brain injury but I am incapable of such patience with myself. I could die tomorrow. But here I am instead of doing anything else.

rlb 5.15.17

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