My roommate told me she was waking up early one morning to go work out.
My alarm does its best to wake me as gently as it can (waking up can be a violent affair here), so it pinched me and prodded me until I could open my eyes (and even then the waking up was raw and mean). The only thing worse than being awake that morning was the daunting task of wearing a real bra, so a sleep addled brain made the mostly unconscious decision to dress down. I didn’t fully awaken until I was out the door, bag in tow.
When I left, my roommate was still asleep. That was somewhat of a comfort to me. Not that I don’t want her to be motivated and fit and successful and enviable because of course I do want the best for her and all that. But in a selfish way, her moment of weakness reminded me that being here is as tiring to other people as it is to me.
Being here is slipping in and out of consciousness between the hours of noon and three, while curled up around my body pillow with a book in my lap. I have things to do, but I’m also tired of carrying this heavy weight that is my head on my neck on my shoulders.
At Wake Forest I’m taking a Japanese History course; I don’t know why, because I can. And since I don’t have to take Japanese History, I couldn’t let it be the first thing to make me cry. And then my biology course is pre-med, so it dangles my english major brain 0ver a void of uncertainty, yelling you will never know enough to be confident. And my psychology class threatens to be too boring to write about.
Despite all this, it’s not the classes or the late nights studying that causes my daily exhaustion.
Tired is embedded deep into my bones and lathered onto my skin.
It’s on the tip of my tongue and is so topically a description of myself that it answers enough questions that it’s troubling. How are you: tired. Who are you: tired.
My friends and I go out on Friday nights, and we forget our obligations in order to dance, so devoid of trouble we find it funny when some dude offers us cocaine because we let go of our inhibitions and let the night take us to another reality.
We are not rooted here, which allows for us to be swept up into the pulsing air of Friday night, floating like leaves, happy, weightless beings of young potential and too-much-to-loose, college-age freefallers. But when I am in Subway at 2 am with people I’ve only known for a month and no one is paying attention to me, gravity comes back like a deadweight, and I let my head fall into my hands.
I could sleep there, if I let myself.
I’ve only cried twice here. I almost cried when my Japanese History teacher told me that contributing in class is a requirement. But today I got a good grade on my first quiz because dammit I can write but not speak, and small triumphs will tide me over to the shore.
I haven’t cried because I missed my parents. I haven’t cried because the mean girl on my hall said something unfriendly. I haven’t cried because I was so sick I couldn’t talk for a week.
I know now that having roots at home in Raleigh is something I took for granted. The growing process in Winston, Salem is more painful than I ever imagined it could be. Even though, yeah, I have a friend who came to me (me!) for a hug when she was homesick, And yeah, I have a friend who shows me poetry that speaks to my soul and tells me that I would get along with her friends at home. And yeah, my mattress is magnetic enough that I wouldn’t leave it voluntarily even when the weight on my shoulders isn’t so bad. And yeah, linguistics is the passion I didn’t know I had. And yeah, my home is only a two hour drive away.
But here is not a home in the way that my best friend is, even for an hour talking on the phone when she tells me she’ll be here next weekend, and suddenly I’m crying the happiest tears and not able to stop. She won’t even be here but for a few minutes after a club soccer game. Yet I hug her so hard our faces crash together and I hold her hand and I cry to the sound of her voice. There’s something about leaning back on something you’d invested in at home.
Especially when here, you’re a commitment-less, obligation-less, anthropomorphous student-shaped seed looking for the right place to plant herself.
If I don’t get an A in all my classes this semester, it’s because I was napping too often and refusing to drink caffeine, but I won’t let myself forget just how often I napped when I was at home.
And I won’t let myself think that this isn’t a happy message. It’s a reminder that sometimes happiness is a difficult emotion to keep awake and flourishing in the mind because it’s situational. But you can choose not to wear a bra one day,and call your friends to remind you how successful you are at setting your roots down. And you can look at the people around you struggling in the same way.
Just so, I wake up every day (gently), and I carry my weight (and I set it down when it gets heavy), and I learn. And I grow.
And I grow.