E, a friend of mine from college, found me on the Instant Message function of Facebook the other day.
I have to say, I kind of abhor the IM function...it seems so abrupt. One minute you're minding your own business—or rather everyone else's business as you voyeuristically observe the activities of your Friends—the next you've got this message screaming across your screen at you. Uh, hello.
But I was quite happy to hear from E, who I hadn't talked to since 1987 or maybe 1986. My college was funky in that only half the students were on-campus at once, the rest spread out across the country and even world. E was a poet, and my most vivid memory of her is of her performing at a cafe in town. There were other poets too, and some music. CM from Youngstown was there, reading his poetry just before or after E. I don't remember the rest, except that they both kicked butt over a faculty poet, one who'd given me a sarcastic evaluation about my writing skills and my sense of humor. I didn't take poetry seriously. Ha. Truer words have seldom been spoken.
E is divorced these days, lives in a northern city in the Midwest, and works hard to support her kids. So many of us have had to come to terms with our hopes and dreams dissolving into the drudgery of work. I say that as someone who clearly has NOT come to terms with it. I fight routine, reject boredom, and resist, sometimes passively, sometimes out loud and with ferocity.
"Marie," typed E. "What would make you happy?"
I thought for a second before typing back. I could talk about creative disappointment and how I want to write my own books again, not spend my days facilitating someone else's dreams in exchange for a paycheck that allows me to subsist and nothing else, or I could mention how routine is dulling my senses and makes my brain flat, or I could talk about how my body has started betraying me with wrinkles and pockets of unexpected flab and how I'd like that to stop short, or I could talk about how I don't want to be reminded of cultural elitism and of how I am not part of the intellectual class, how when push comes to shove, I'm not of that world. I could mention that I want to be challenged daily, to learn new things and to be engaged, and if I can't travel as a shortcut to get this, I'd like to find a way to be more "alive" at home.
Or I could tell her the truth.
"Company." I typed. "I'd like some company."
She paused before typing back.