What to expect?

I forgot how much I enjoyed skipping a night’s sleep. Being more disassociated from the outside world, and more attentive to my inner thoughts.

I remembered a conversation I had with my older brother last summer. He was waiting for replies about his job applications, and he seemed decided to marry next summer. He told me he was concerned that these were the last two big things to expect in life, and that would be it.

I had a suspicion that my brother and I shared the same fears, but we were never able to know it. Because when one of us expresses fear about something, the other tries to reassure him and to play it down.

This time, I had no more assurance than: “You never know.”
I couldn’t say more about the future when I feared it more than him. There’s not a moment in my life when I wasn’t eagerly waiting for something in the future. Everything great existed only in the future, as a projected consequence of my planned actions.
But I remember every self, and the diminishing expectations I had as I grew older. My 18-year-old self would be devastated if he knew his future. My 20-year-old self would be disappointed. My 23-year-old self probably wouldn’t be surprised to know about my current 24-year-old self.
I see exactly what my brother fears. In fact, the big things in my life have probably passed. I don’t even know what I expect of the next year or even the next five years.

I told him I will continue my higher education in Europe, that I will apply for the best places. If I get accepted, then I will spend a few years there. Otherwise, I won’t waste more time in education, and I’ll just get by here. He asked me if I still had energy left after all the years I spent away in college, to travel again and learn a new culture. I told him I had no choice, and I couldn’t stay anymore.

Since then, I applied to some places in Europe. But then I asked myself if I really had the energy. More importantly, I asked myself if I was ready to set an expectation and face the outcome a few years later. I have done this so many times in my life already, too many times.
I don’t think any of applications will be accepted.
I don’t think I’ll go, even if one of my applications was accepted.

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A day to remember: at night

I ordered some food. It took longer than I thought to be done, but I didn’t mind it. I sat looking at myself and thinking.

I looked at my jeans, so washed up and faded. I bought them during my second year in my previous college, and they were always my favorite. They had coffee stains from last year, and though I washed it many times, they were still there. I wondered how many people have noticed them.

I looked at my arms. My younger brother joked a few years earlier that they were hairy; he called me a werewolf.

 

It was silent in the restaurant, and I remembered the noises the new students made throughout last week. It was orientation week. I observed that they seemed young. I was amazed by the difference between us, even though I was only older by a year.

I asked myself if I envied them. But I quickly dismissed the thought. I hoped and assumed that I didn’t.

 

I must have done a perfect job of making my last birthday unremarkable. I don’t remember what I wore, where I was, or what I did. Really, if my age is counted by the birthdays I remember, I would be still 23 years, or much much younger.

This year, however, I failed to do the same.

I thought too much. In fact, I thought enough about today that I thought of a birthday wish.

I wish I never have to go through another day like today.

 

I would have preferred if my birthday was confined to a physical place, and I could choose whether to attend it or not. It would be only a minor detail whether my age became 24.01 years or remained 23.99 years.

 

My food was done, and I was hungry but I didn’t feel like eating anymore. I took a bite, and planned to take the rest home.

I stopped by a shop to buy a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. My only other pack was consumed throughout the last year of college. I thought the day was already abnormal that it didn’t matter what I did anymore.

I remembered when my older brother and I were talking, and he said to me that we should be very grateful our parents warned us a lot about smoking. He told me that most of his friends smoked, but he never smoked and never wanted to.

I also remembered when I was in summer camp, and in the chemistry lab they showed us how much smoking is harmful through an experiment. Later, we saw the assistant for that lab smoking and we were surprised. He was in the same lab, he even prepared some of the materials on the harmful effects of smoking.

 

As I was driving back home, I regretted not going to see my sister.

I smoked the first cigarette, and then I followed it with five more. Unlike smoking in college, this time I enjoyed every second of it. I listened to Present Tense by Radiohead on repeat through the ride home. The smokes hurt my eyes a little bit and it was more difficult to see in front of me. I reminded myself that I don’t need to smoke. I could just drive off a ledge. But I always feared I would regret it when it was too late.

 

I really wish I don’t have to go through another day like today.

 

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A day to remember: before sunset

I tried my best to avoid doing anything special, or out of the ordinary. Because if today was unremarkable, I would forget it forever.

I really wanted to see my younger sister; my mother brought her along with my younger brother to see my grandmother. But it was a two-hour drive, and I could visit her tomorrow just like I could have visited her yesterday.
In any case, I was guaranteed to see her one more time when I drive them back to the airport later.

I woke up, and went to work. Just like I’ve done for the majority of this summer.

I made a mistake. I usually go to the diner at 11:30 or 1:30, when it’s almost empty. I could take my time to choose my lunch and eat it in silence. But since I woke up later than usual, I ate something quickly, and I was hungry at 12:30. It seemed crowded, so I went to the bathroom and stayed for what I thought was 15 min. I didn’t carry my cell phone, I don’t usually carry it, and I didn’t know exactly how long I stayed. But I hoped people had left. It was still crowded when i got out, but I couldn’t go back to work. If I went back I would have wasted two lunch times from my work time. So I took my plate, and left to eat outside and hoped that since it was hot few people would be eating outside. I was wrong again, and it bothered me. But I ate quickly and left. I didn’t finish my plate, and I thought I would go to a nearby city to have dinner later. It was habitual of me to go there a few times a week.

I hoped this small miscalculation wouldn’t ruin the normality of my day.

I was planning to go running after work, take a shower, and then take the necessary 1-hour drive to get good food. I could listen to my usual music on the way, and the whole lunch annoyance would be forgotten by then.

I thought my work was boring, for the most part. Ideally, it should be done by a machine and if that was not possible, it should be done by someone with an admirable amount of patience and indifference. I thought that’s why I was hired, because the others had better things to do, not because they couldn’t do it.

As I neared the end of the work day, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be outside. It didn’t seem terrible to stay here doing whatever, and not worrying about the rest of the day. But I felt hungry. I remembered what happened at lunch, and I remembered that it was my birthday. I knew I had to leave to get food.