Five Years Later
My alarm perched precariously close to the end of my nightstand and waited to fill my tiny apartment with a shrill wake up call. Before it rattled its way onto the floor, my arm instinctually threw itself out of the bed sheets to silence it. The world was still dark, but I could tell that the morning was in its last few minutes of peaceful silence before the rest of humanity awoke. Temporarily, I rejoiced in the fact that the birds lightly chirping outside my apartment building were my only company.
With a hefty sigh, I wrestled with my sheets until they were ruffled lumps at the end of my bed, which was much too large for one lonely person. Per usual, the shower pelted the feeling of grogginess away with warm sprinkles. My grumpy mood, however, would take until 11:00 to wear away. After struggling with the stubborn closet doors, I searched for a white button down shirt that wasn’t wrinkled beyond repair. I managed to match it with black pants and scuffed shoes all while watching the clock with extreme awareness.
Then I was out the door, but not before having to open it back up again since I almost forgot to lock up my apartment. Instead of waiting for the crummy elevator to stop at every goddamn floor in the building, I decided to jog down a few flights of steep stairs. This routine sadly planted a seed of reminder that I should actually go to the gym for once even though I broke that New Year’s Resolution long ago.
Once outside, the sky was losing its pink tinge, and I raced across the street to meet the bus that just arrived at its stop, not hesitating to climb aboard and sit in the nearest open seat to the driver. Having nothing else to do for the couple minute trip downtown, I got the blasted “Wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round” song stuck in my head for some unforsaken reason considering I was probably seven the last time I heard it. Once the bus halted, I jumped out of my seat and flicked a nice tip at the driver who simply nodded his head in appreciation. I swung my briefcase as I crossed the street to my white collared graduate job in the painfully plain office building.
Arriving in my seat two minutes early, I sighed at the white stacks of busy work in front of me. At least they offered some contrast to the varying shades of grey walls, desks, and carpet. Since the work of entering numbers into my high-end company’s database was not exactly intellectually stimulating, my mind drifted as it does most days to wondering why my bachelor’s degree led to this. In no more than five minutes, I decided that I was going to quit because I was overqualified and deserved to live. But then it took me another ten minutes to convince myself that being unemployed would be worse, and that I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for the business major.
The morning drudged on as always with a few bored greetings from not-so-close coworkers and interruptions from annoyed customers on the phone whose problems were passed down to me because God knows no one else wanted to deal with them. And after asking my boss one too many questions, my stomach finally chimed in with the series of complaints to demand my lunch break. What a relief.
I got on the bus again, jealous of all my coworkers’ shiny cars, and rode a few miles downtown to a coffee shop where I was forced to wait in the longest line just for a cup of overpriced caffeine and a bagel without enough cream cheese spread. After a bit of internal contemplation, I decided that there was not enough time to sit down and eat, so I walked back outside. Of course, this could not be done without swinging the wide glass door open and almost smacking into a woman with her children and spilling some scolding hot black coffee down my hand. I scowled as they scuttled away without a word of apology.
For the rest of the afternoon, I waited for the artificial energy to make my day feel productive and worthwhile. But I had the feeling that such a day would not come for quite a few more years after I spent my time in limbo struggling with the “real world”, which I learned was only comprised of overqualified intellectuals like myself whose ambitions were floating too far away to see anymore through all the fog of day to day living.
At the end of the day, I scratched out the date on the calendar hanging above my desk with a thick red sharpie. One day down. Problem was, I didn’t know what I was counting down to.