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He thinks he is a rabbit. Small, young, jovial. Walking through fields, past lakes, hiding in caves. He thinks he will never die. He wants to look for something but doesn’t quite know what it is.

It is a big world. A huge, beautiful place. And even more, the universe, but one planet is more than enough for most of us, for a lifetime of adventures or of hiding in caves.

I have been old for many years. Since I was 10, knowing I was no longer singular. And now, 26, four or five gray hairs on my head, a candle flickering beside me, burning away.

I see you sitting there and growing old. I see your armchair is comfortable with you.

I know there are many different types of stories. What I don’t know is what kind mine is. How can it plot out a path if I keep moving? What if it never forms to anything? I’m not running away, just searching, running towards.

I had a dream last night that I was in school. I got good grades. I showed my grandfather. He said something like, “good, you can be a teacher.” And I replied with, “maybe when I’m older.” And he laughed, implying I’m there now.

When does youth leave you? What day? When do you become old and no longer young?

Count the days. Count the lines on your face. Count the moments of happiness. When does it happen?

So far it has been mostly the same. Wonderful days and days we wait out. Bunker down to hide from them. Seek the weekends. The two of seven days that belong just to us. The freedom.

I hear a door shut. I can hear my neighbors upstairs. I don’t know them. I never will. I am leaving and I will never have said hello.

I sit at the traffic light often, waiting, almost home, or almost to work, or almost to somewhere. I watch people drive by, alone, their turn to move. No more waiting. Still ignoring everyone except those who might cross their path.

We made this world. It has grown up with us. We raised it, taught it how to behave, how to drive, how to wait. We showed it what to care about, what not to. Together we ignore the man standing in the middle of the road with a sign. We tell ourselves he doesn’t need us. He’s a trick. He’s a lie. We can’t love him like we love our mother, we’d never get home to her. Maybe it’s human. Maybe it’s not.

I am not done searching. I haven’t found anything yet. All I can do is keep going and hope the world doesn’t ruin me. It hasn’t so far.

I love you.

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It is dark and 1 am and the cat is sneezing somewhere in the kitchen. The blinds are slightly open and I keep seeing this ghost of light fly from the top of the doorframe to the ceiling. At first I thought it was the cat but then I realized there’s nothing there to jump on.

It’s 1 am and there’s still traffic outside; there are too many people here so they never sleep and always drive their cars. People are always busy but I never see them get anything done. Everyone says they’re creative or musical but I don’t see it. What the hell are people doing here? I look out the window to see my car parked on the road, taking up whatever piece of cement it can.

I don’t know what people are doing out there, but the blinds are closed now and the cat is sleeping on my pillow. It’s so expensive to live here I don’t think people have time to do anything but work to make money and then use the rest of their time spending their money on things that are easy to buy: fancy cars and expensive clothes and whatever health or food thing is popular. Do people even talk to each other? I don’t know. I’m remembering this one time a grown woman from here recorded herself crying on her laptop and sent it out. I don’t think that’s the way to deal with sadness but maybe it’s the easiest way. If you send picture proof you don’t have to talk about it or think about it after you push a button.

It is not worse or better here than elsewhere, not yet. It is almost December and the tourists still come to take pictures of the palm trees. The palm trees are still lovely. And now they are covered with lights and giant decorative snowflakes hang down from them in a place where it never snows.

I am almost in tears standing in the cereal aisle staring at the price tags on the granola bars. Three dollars. Three fucking dollars. I grab a box in tuck it into my basket, because everyone needs snacks. Even me, even for three dollars.

Wandering around the store, and out of it, I wonder what everyone does for a living. I want to ask them, I want to walk up to them and say, ‘excuse me, I see you’re looking very well put together, how do you manage to make money in this city?’

I don’t do it, but I keep thinking it, keep wondering. On my walk home I pass a cardboard sign that someone has taped to a streetlight. It is large and written with black marker. It says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Some homeless man took the time, and the ink from his marker, to write this and post it up for all of us people walking by to see. 

Walking home with my granola bars stuffed into my backpack, I nervously spin my phone in circles in my hand. I need a job. I need a job. I need a job. There are so many stories of people who went to a city almost penniless and made it. But how did they make it? How do I make it? There are so many people here. There are so many people walking with me, crossing streets, running, biking, rolling along on their skateboards. Driving. They all have a place. There must be a place for me. I have to be able to contribute to this. It’s been a week of looking. A week. I can’t tell if a week is forever or no time at all. It feels like both. My phone spins in my hand as I turn the corner.

The street I’m staying on is nice. Somehow there is always parking, even in the middle of Los Angeles, and there are trees and plants along the sidewalk. A lovely place to walk, and a lovely place to be. There’s this huge, leafy palm plant that catches my eye as I walk toward it. It’s very green and calming somehow, just sitting there, growing. The trees are pushing up the sidewalks as we walk on them, going wherever it is we’re going.

I feel a little bad for being afraid or being worried, because I’m fine, really. I have friends to help me, and a family who cares about me, even if they are across the country. I have plenty of access to cardboard and markers. I have a roof to sleep under. I have time. I have some kind of place already. I have granola bars. But I no longer have that three dollars.

 

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.

I’m in California. Again.

You can't tell, put this picture contains the head and backpack of the British boy I met at LAX and temporarily planned on marrying.

You can’t tell, but this picture contains the head and backpack of the British boy I met at LAX and temporarily planned on marrying.

I’ve been here for two days now, wandering around the scary-busy streets of Los Angeles and getting a sun burn. It’s been fun, though, if that previous sentence doesn’t prove it. I’m staying with a friend, and her friend (who’s from England), and her friend (who’s also from England). It’s turned into a USA vs. England competition, which so far has brought a lot of humor (not humour) to the dinner table, phone conversations, etc. Basically everything.

We’re staying in L.A. for four days at a hostel/hotel. Because it’s a hostel/hotel, there are tons of people here from elsewhere (read: not America) and the poolside hangouts we’ve been having quite frequently are even more entertaining because of it.

But, before all of that, there was the trip here. The four of us were set to meet up at LAX – which was fine, except for my flight landed at Long Beach air port. I left from Detroit, got another plane from Phoenix, and booked a shuttle bus from Long Beach to LAX. During my layover in Phoenix, I got bored, and typed the following useful information on my Ipod:

Things to do when you are bored in an airport:

Stare. At people. Out the window. At the T.V. on mute and is so far away you can’t see what it says anyway.

Play “Guess the Air Marshall”. Consider every man in a suit. The Asian girl. The man who ran up to the terminal late. The old guy reading a newspaper. The toddler?

Fiddle with every loose belonging you’ve shoved into the side flaps of your carry-on bag, Laptop bag, purse, etc. Fiddle for at least thirty minutes.

Closely examine everyone around you in a stealthy way, glancing away right before they catch you looking. This skill takes some time to develop, but that’s fine, because all you have is time.

Examine your surroundings. Take note of every electrical outlet – not because you need to charge your cell phone (although you might if you’ve been playing large amounts of Tetris) but because you’ve got nothing better to do.

Read. Wait, what? You didn’t bring a book? Don’t worry, crappy magazines are available for $8 in your nearest terminal convenience store. 

Not everyone can be everything. This is still something I’m struggling with. Someone has to be onstage at a concert, someone has to be the crowd. Someone has to mop the floors at McDonalds, someone has to collect the neighborhood’s trash. Someone has to work at  that grocery store for thirty years, wearing the same blue-collared shirt until it goes threadbare, wearing the same faded black pants until the boss declares it’s time for a new pair. Not everyone can be everything. Not everyone wants to be. This is still something I’m struggling with. The cashier likes her job, she likes to talk to people. The janitor hums while he mops. They aren’t in constant pain. They’re okay. I can’t understand it. I’m not like that.

“This is why there’s smog in L.A., because if there wasn’t, if people could see the stars, they’d realize how tiny they are, and they’d never audition for a McDonalds commercial ever again.”

At a concert, someone’s on the stage. In the crowd, the people stand, watching, swaying, singing, bobbing their heads. The performer has his dream, but the people have dreams, too. They want something like what’s on that stage — maybe not that exact thing, but something. Not everyone can be everything, but everyone can be something. I don’t understand what happens to those dreams. This is something I’m still struggling with.