a big beautiful mess

Improbable Landscape

So I’m sitting here in a coffee shop on the Disneyland-polished end of Pittsburgh’s hippest street, trying to think of clever uses for the phrase “mimetic desire,” powering through a laundry list of super grown-up things such as 1) Get my car inspected and 2) Draw up a lease agreement in which I am on the landlord side of things and 3) Actually, I do need to do laundry.

I’m looking for a job again still, and there’s a constant cacophony of conflict between what I might find interesting and satisfying, and what I would be truly great at, between what I want to do, and what I ought to be doing based on my level of education, and what will actually pay the bills that I have to pay now that that education is over (at least temporarily).

There’s the pull of the past, and the coy and cloying idea that I’m not actually a grown-up yet, that I identify more with the college students around me than with the adults, and that that feeling, that emotion, ought to exempt me from having to deal with all this grown-up shit.

And then there’s the matter-of-fact brick reality of actual legit adulthood and all the feelings that, surprisingly, come along with that, too. Stocking a kitchen that’s actually my own with utensils that I actually want instead of with the ones that are cheapest or most convenient is amazingly satisfying. The thought of getting married isn’t a crazy anti-feminist dream lingering from my pre-Smith indoctrination anymore, it’s a pleasantly tingly, terrifying, thrilling, imagination-igniting idea.

And all of that domesticity and all these new possibilities are at odds with a steady river of certainty that’s run through my whole life and that flows toward the ocean of PhD. Can the map of my future be terraformed so that the Mountains of Marriage border the Ocean of PhD? Can the colorful hotsprings of Children be incorporated into the ecosystem? Will this improbable landscape turn the traveler’s head, make her mad?

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