I went to a slam poetry night the other evening. This isn’t atypical of what I would’ve done as a student on a typical Wednesday night. I was truly looking forward to the evening of sipping a cold beer in an overly humid room with hipsters and the general youth. I was looking forward to the solitude that came from reflecting one’s own thoughts in the unison of a crowd. I was excited about the positive and energy and acceptance that I had always found at these events. I found a spot and later continued to move till I finally found a table I could sit on.
I could recognize less than a handful of people. I don’t mean to brag, but having the confidence that I would meet friends there was truly one of the reasons I had gone to this by myself. I had just expected to fall into old acquaintances, the distant friend. I had expected to find company but found myself in a room of strangers. Very young, very naive strangers. I could tell they were first years right away. Eighteen years old and with that energy and optimism. I remember having that just so very recently. I had never felt so old in my life. It was almost crippling and I couldn’t manage even a returned smile.
I decided to stay and found that the poems were not as universal and ageless as I had always assumed it was. They were about first heartbreaks. They were about moving away from home. They were about a loneliness that I found shallow and empty in essence. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from building a life in a city and finding yourself still sitting alone on a Saturday night and actually preferring it to anything else. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from making an extremely elaborate dinner for yourself and being okay with not sharing that moment of completion. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from going to the movies alone and indulging in an overpriced, over caffeinated, over sugared cola drink because getting to know someone actually felt like small talk. It wasn’t the loneliness that came from talking the transit and doing a job that was way less glamorous than what you had expected for yourself. It wasn’t the loneliness that could be talked about or even mentioned because realizing it was real would open a gate that you could never really close again.
They talked about loneliness and heartbreak as if it were one single event separate from everything else in their life’s events. They spoke as if the event happened, they reacted, they moved on. It was as if the event had never transformed their bones, their very cores.
I wondered when I had become so cold and heartless and apathetic. I remembered feeling so much awe and emotion and love the last time. When did I become so shut off, so filtered, so proud? I was disgusted at myself for feeling as if their thoughts were invalid and childish. I remembered thinking that they had no idea what being an adult was life. The internal chaos and turmoil that comes from not having a job and willing to do just about anything instead of having to go back home in desperate. The emptiness that comes from self loathing and self pity from the lack of meaning for yourself. The panic of not having a home within your means that could keep you happy. The desperateness that comes from not knowing what you’re doing with your life, your time. The joy kill of doubting your skills and strengths and desperately not able to find anything happy in this period of temporary. This was me a month ago and now, slowly things are falling into place.
I am a very, very broke adult surviving in Vancouver working two jobs and managing a personal life that gives meaning and the strength to face old demons that have not yet disappeared.
I am very grateful and humbled for this period because it has and will ultimately define my future, for better or worse.