Sea of Uncertainty (Spring, 2009)
I finished reading The Rum Dairy; I turned the last page and laid it on my lap. It was Tuesday. I had a paper to finish by Thursday. Finals were quickly approaching. It was imperative that my time be spent well: in preparation for finals week which would start the upcoming Monday. I wasn’t in the mood for any of it. I wasn’t in the mood for anything I had done before. Life was getting stale. I got up and left the library to enjoy a cigarette.
It was a bright and sunny, end of April day. Everybody was outside chatting with friends and enjoying pleasant strolls amongst the budding trees and flowers. Birds welcomed the first warm spring days with pleasant chirps that seemed to compliment everybody’s mood, yet contradict mine.
To my back was the six story university library: that red brick building with that unsightly, off-white façade. The shallow arched front managed to reach the roof of the library, but in an attempt to embrace the width of the building, failed by a measure of ten feet to each side. Just as a dilapidated factory can sore the eyes, the façade’s attempt at creating a colonnade of square pillars, a horrendous insult to Greco-Roman architecture, was equally offensive to the organs of vision.
Sprawled out in front of me was a two lane road. I dragged my cigarette slowly, understanding my time was limited. To the right the road meandered through campus. To the left it had a fork: the right prong went down to the waterfront, following along the path of the Monongahela River; the left prong led into the center of Morgantown. A couple minutes to the right of the library was the glass structured student center everybody called the Mountainlair.
The point of the cigarette was to give me a few light headed minutes to regain the motivation needed to tackle my schoolwork. I was nearing the end of my smoke stick; failure filled my lungs: no motivation had influenced me to return to the library. A new species of sensation, a certain kind of hunger I had before now never felt, began to seep into the furthest recesses of my being. I decided to visit the Mountainlair for a bite to eat, hoping food would fill the cracks of my self’s extremes.
I walked up the road. I stood outside the Mountlair; I teetered as if on a precipice of steep destruction. The short walk had only fueled the hunger. Strangely, the thought of eating to subside the new-born craving had altogether abandoned my mind. I guess the feeling wasn’t hunger at all, but perhaps an excuse to find something to do besides schoolwork. The hunger was replaced by a steady uneasiness, a feeling of uncertainty that wrapped my entrails like a heavy drenched towel. I moseyed out to the road and made a left.
I was restless. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I thought briefly of walking home but the idea didn’t ease me. I kept walking the road, hoping I’d figure a way to keep interested in this place. Everybody else seemed pre-occupied, walking to class or taking care of some other business. I had no business. I thought maybe I’d walk to a friend’s, reasoning that a conversation with a familiar face might keep me grounded. But the idea passed quicker than the last: I kept walking.
My uneasiness had yet to settle. I lit another cigarette and kept going, letting my thoughts run unhindered through my patternless brain. I knew I was heading for something. I had no clue what, only that it wasn’t a dead end or a bottomless pit; at least I hoped. It seemed that everyone else around me knew what they were doing: a kind of confidence that the future would be kind to them and everything would turn out alright. When you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to know where you’re going to be. I had been in college the last two years, surrounded by people who had been told growing up that college was the only way to comfortably survive in this world. I had no interests in comforts or pleasantries, only depravity and empty depths, and I had no faith in the piece of paper they called a diploma.
Cogs had been set in motion long ago, pointing me in a direction I was blind to see. If only I knew just what their teeth and gears held, I might be able to hoist myself upon the future to prevent myself from drowning in its Sea of Uncertainty. For now I will flounder in its rising tides.
I had walked far enough down the road that I no longer recognized my surroundings; the empty uneasiness started to subside. It dawned on me the origin of this turbulence; Morgantown, and everything else I had familiarized myself with.
I had been living here in Morgantown for the past two years while I worked towards my Journalism degree and now I’d grown complacent. I’d seen what the town offered; knowledge and a good time. But knowing that in any city of any country I could find them both awaiting my arrival, I decided it was time to leave.
I packed my bags, and by dawn I was on a bus to the nearest airport.