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1. Ok, here it is, 2015. Usually I’m bummed on NYE, in some kind of sentimental sad way. I don’t know, it just happens! Every year, like SAD. BUT this year, I felt so excited! Happy, even. Wow. You guys. This is either going to be awesome, or really terrible and tragic. Let’s go find out.

2. I have finally entered the “post-college” phase of my life. I mean, it only took a year and a half of actual post-college. I have been so busy (aka gainfully employed and interesting) before now, I had no time to think about (aka sleep in too late) my life now! You know? (Don’t worry mom, I’m working on finding a “real” job!)

3. At some point you have to stop trying to be brave and brash and instead do what is beautiful. What makes you happy instead of terrified. What makes you feel fulfilled instead of simply adventurous. What is “good” instead of “interesting”. Throw pillows and rugs instead of throw-stuff-in-a-suitcase. It’s ok if it feels right, right? More on this later…

4. Sometimes the worst thing for you can be too much of yourself.

5. SHUT UP. STOP TWITTERING ABOUT HOW HEARTBROKEN YOU ARE. IN SOME STRANGE VAGUE WAY. (and yet, at the same time: LISTEN TO ALL OF MY WHINY PROBLEMS!)

6. Selfies are over. Stop. Stop. Or I will be force to break your selfie stick over my knee. Watch me!

7. (Contd from 3, sort of…) When I was younger, (maybe 4 years ago or so) I loved to talk to one of my best friends about how people are so lame, how people get married, and all they want is that house, those annoying kids, and stuff. We loved to think that we were so much better, that we wanted more for our lives than that. We wanted to travel, to meet nice/cool people, to do important things. We never, ever wanted to settle down, to own a house, to be tied to some square chunk of land. Fast forward to now… we’ve done a bunch of cool stuff, we’ve met lots of nice people, we’ve started and are still trying to do important things. And we have more perspective, thanks to all that we’ve done, on the stuff that other people choose to do. Yeah, ok, sure, kids are cute. Yeah, marriage seems, well, it seems to work for you, we guess. Oh no, we still don’t think buying that house is a good life choice… anyway, what I’m saying is, is that we’ve changed our minds. Even if it is just a little. And we hate to think what our past selves would say about it, so we barely admit it to our current selves.

8. What do you mean, you saw me on OKcupid? No way. I saw you! (BTW your profile pic is really terrible. I mean, it probably is. It might be. Not that I’ve seen it. What are we talking about?)

9. What country this year? Vietnam or South Africa? Do I have to choose?

10. It’s all going to be ok! Especially when you think about global warming and how terrible it is, and how no one even gives a shit that the polar bears are dying, not really. Look, all of your other problems have now practically vanished!

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There is a man. He is walking toward me on a long dark path. He could be young or old. It might be a woman. We will pass each other and we will not speak. And the path will still be long and dark.

Let’s go to the rose garden and not take a single picture. We’ll weave past the smart-phone-slingers and we’ll run, colors blurring until there are no colors; until there is every color. The roses — don’t touch them, just smell them, and try to remember the exact shade of pink that no camera could capture anyway.

Death might surely be coming for us soon. And we’ll lie in our beds surrounded by all of the plastic containers we’ve emptied in our lifetimes. Our vision will blur at the edges like it did we when were running past the roses in the garden; we’ll see every color — we’ve seen every color, while we’ve been running — and then we will see nothing.

On the long walk home from the garden, we’ll walk into the city center, and through. The lights will glare down on us, from every angle and corner, every color that neon comes in. The lights they flicker, and drop, and loop, and blink. The signs they politely and shyly and cunningly ask you for every penny you have — every 99 cents. And we will give them most of everything we have, we will leave it all here: some of it drops from us as we run, some we left quietly with that man we never spoke to on the dark park path, some leaves from our eyes as we smile at little dogs and little children and at strangers’ backs as they hold hands with other strangers that they love.

In August, one sign reads, the roses will droop and their petals will fall to the ground. The pinks and reds and purples and yellows will all fade to brown, the same color, the same shade. They will be swept up — this is a tidy city, after all — and dumped into a clear plastic garbage bag and left at the same street corner as the convenience store you bought a candy bar from two weeks ago. Brown and brown and brown, buried unnaturally in the earth. Us, too.

Two dogs are sniffing at each other on the walking path. One is white, a tiny fluffy creature, the other black, with short hair, also small. Their owners smile politely at each other, earbuds in, tugging on their leashes. They do not want to say hello, unlike their dogs, even though they are the ones that are able, and they would very much appreciate if their furry companions would ignore every other living creature around them, as they do. And eventually, I’m sure, the two small dogs were pulled away, but I did not stay to watch it, and you do not, either. We walk away. We do not smile when they can see us. We do not speak.

It is hot, tonight. It will be hot all week. The sun will shine down on us and on the pink roses in the rose garden in the park. The bright light will burn the corners of the flower petals; bleach them, turn them a shade lighter than before. No one will take pictures of the roses by the end of July; they will no longer be beautiful enough for Instagram; no amount of photo editing could bring back that shade of pink; there will be no more selfies.

When we reach our home, we will jog up the flights of stairs to our apartments. We will close the door behind us and enter a dark space. Lying on our beds in silence, we will close our eyes, think of the pink we’ve seen, of all the pink we’ve seen, of all the colors. We will think of the old man on the walking path, the one who we never really saw. We will think of the tiny dogs that wanted to be friends. We will think of all the people who do not see the roses, only take pictures of them. We will try to picture the exact shade of pink on those pink roses in the rose garden in the park. We won’t be able to, and the color won’t be the same tomorrow, when we go back. The sun will have been shining down, the color lost, the day over, gone, wasted.  What a waste of a rose garden, you are. We are, us happy snap-backed photo snappers. We tiny dog owners. We tiny home owners. Tiny life livers.

Tomorrow night we will all go back to the park. We will walk quietly along the cement paths. We will weave around those who walk slower than us; let faster walkers pass. We will march in a small, green and flowery parade, fancy tennis shoes squeaking under bright lights. The roses in the rose garden in the park will be there, too. And the small dogs. And the strangers who will stay strangers. And we will march and then march home. And we will close our eyes and everything will go dark.

Here’s a question for you: What are you most afraid of?

Me? Not the dark, or heights, or strangers. I’m afraid of living the wrong life.

I’m afraid that I’ll take a job in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, because it’s in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, and I’m afraid I’ll be satisfied with doing a job that isn’t satisfying, and, therefore, living a life that isn’t satisfying.

Maybe me saying this negates all my worries. Maybe I’m  waging a war that hasn’t happened yet; that won’t.

Maybe what I’m most afraid of is not being able to find it, the job I always assumed was waiting for me, somewhere. I still believe it’s out there, I just don’t know how to find it, where to look. I’m afraid I’ll miss it, pass over some link on the internet, or walk by the man wearing a puffy winter coat (I’m imagining this will take place in Chicago, in the winter, of course.) who could make it all happen.

Then again, I feel like if I can’t find what it is I’m looking for in San Fran or LA or wherever I end up, I’ll just make it. I’ll make my dream job. I honestly believe it’s possible.

This is my war, my battle. My I-just-graduated-college-and-have-to-find-a-job battle. I’m off into the real world (because people tell me the real world is a real thing), yet refusing to let the real world happen to me the way I’ve always expected it to attempt to.

And yet here, at the end of this thought, I’m still left where I was when I began a few sentences back. The war is still waging, the fear is still real, and there’s no one-liner that can end it.

1. Take what you can get. Something is definitely better than nothing.

2. It all depends on proximity and timing.

3. People are never going to act the way you assume they will. If you stop expecting people to live up to your expectations, you’ll be a lot happier, and live a better life.

4. Nothing lasts forever. Including friendships/relationships. People leave, or move on, and it’s ok. Even if you KNOW that the person you’re spending time with won’t be in your life for too long, you should still be happy and be with them and treat them like a great human being who you’re happy to be with, for however long you’ll be in each other’s lives.

5. Do something today you’ve never done before.

6. Seriously, I am super funny. I just wish you could understand how funny I am. I am so funny.

7. “Smile! Don’t look so depressed, it’ll be OK!” – guy outside the drug store, to my retreating self. Uh, two things. First of all, no one smiles all the time, so why should I be smiling as I walk out of a rite aid? Second, rite aid does not carry muffins, so why the hell would I be smiling/not looking depressed as I walk out of my local rite aid at nine in the morning, muffin-less?!

8. I’m (re-)learning French on this super cool app I just got on my phone (Duolingo). Je suis une femme blancheSo useful! I’m off to France!

9. Do people really listen to the radio these days? I don’t believe it. Who are you?

10. The closest anyone can come these days to visiting another planet is to go to any Home Depot late at night. Just try it. This sort of thing you just have to experience first-hand.

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You wake up and you feel it almost immediately. You try to shake it off, brush your teeth, eat breakfast; it’s still there. Maybe it’s in your house, along with all the good and terrible memories. You get in your car, drive away toward somewhere. Where can you go? Shopping? Maybe that’s how people become shopaholics. Addicts. Maybe they’re all the same. Maybe we could all easily become like them; we were just born into different circumstances — found ourselves in a better place when we popped out into the world, and now we all struggle to stay upright where our mothers left us.

You pull into the mall parking lot. You turn off your car, but you know you’re not going in, so you roll down your window and sit still for a few minutes. It feels a little better. But running away doesn’t solve anything. What you’re looking for can’t be purchased at any store. Time is the only thing that helps. Time passes you by out the car window; people march in and out of the store, lugging out bags full of things they may or may not need. You put your seatbelt back on; you’ve sat there long enough, let enough time go by, and it’s still the same and it still will be the same for quite some time.

You could call someone. A friend. But it seems that these days all of your old friends are busy living their own completely different lives. It just doesn’t work anymore. Maybe you need to meet new people. Maybe you need to move. Anything to avoid staying here and falling slightly down, becoming something else. What were you born to be? This? Maybe new friends can’t help you. Maybe a new city can’t help you, either. Maybe nothing can. Maybe everything is just a cover-up, just a distraction. Just like sleep. That’s why you feel it the most in the early mornings, when you can still hear the birds chirping in the dying trees across the street, before the motors start and don’t stop until well after nightfall. That’s why some days, when you don’t have a calendar full of tasks to complete before you head back to bed, when you wake up and look at the clock and realize how many hours are going to stretch out in front of you, you feel it. Life. Just living. What the birds and the squirrels would feel if they had brains like we do. Emptiness. Or, rather, not emptiness. A lack of something that is full of something else. An empty fullness we try to cover up with the society we’ve created. With the laws, the stop signs, the uniforms of employees and school children. With religion. With purpose; an easy purpose, one-size-fits-all, that can be found in several different very old books. And, of course, with shopping.

Of course the one person I want to be around is always nowhere to be found. Of course we can’t be together. Of course there’s never any time to say anything. It’s never been like this before. These new   experiences are fun and interesting and overwhelming. And I can’t even say that; there’s no time. There’s never enough time. It’s never been like this before. There’s always been silences, breathing room, space to think. No longer. Days move by, solid chunks of time filled with work, with doing things, with emails, with phone calls, with brisk walks across bricked streets. Days blur together: is it still Wednesday? Isn’t this what a Saturday feels like? How many days has been since we were in that room together? How many days since we last spoke? Too many. Too many days altogether. Too much living. Too much life.

And yet at other times there’s entirely too much emptiness. You sit across the table from me but that space between us might as well be stretched across an entire continent. It doesn’t matter how much time there is if there’s nothing to say, if no one is willing to say it. It’s never been like this before. It’s always been easy or it’s always been nothing. This is a combination of something and nothing and difficulty. I’m struggling against something I can’t quite see and there’s too much time to wage this war. It never ends. Nothing changes. It’s always you and me and silence. And no one wins.