Nothing is Forever
I un-bungee the cooler bag from the front rack of my forest-green three speed and put in on the ground. It’s big enough to fit me inside of it but right now there’s just a cheeseburger, my bike lock, and five mountain dews. A lot of courier/delivery services work this way: your order has to reach a minimum before taxes to be eligible for the service. Seemingly unwilling to pay $4 for a side of fries or $7 for another burger, this fellow has decided to buy five cans of soda to bring his order to the minimum.
It’s my first day on the job as a bike courier and when I look into the bag and see what’s happened, I’m sure it’s also going to be my last. Probably, I shouldn’t have put my metal lock in the same compartment as cans of soda. But also… why couldn’t he have just ordered more fries?!
One of the cans has been punched in the gut and is leaking from the corners of its now-bent frame. Actually, it’s just dripping now, it’s done leaking. My entire bag and its contents are soaked.
Did I mention I’m also lost?
In the middle of a condo-populated concrete garden, on a Sunday afternoon, not even the public library is open. It means, for lack of paper towel, the only way this guy is going to get his burger is if I get it out of the bag and soak up the soda. My shirt is my only option and—refusing to cry—I take it off and rub it around the bag. When I’m done, I see I’ve got a text from dispatch with directions to the right building and, with my shirt wrung and re-donned, I complete my first delivery.
When I graduated this spring from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Journalism (with honors), I had no idea my first job would be so… sticky. With grand aspirations of taking the editorial reigns in the New Yorker office, my clunky cruiser seemed to be pedaling in the opposite direction. Plus, the only writing I was doing was panicked texts to dispatch: “Where am I?”
I’m feeling the same panic two months later at eight in the morning when I text my mother: “What do I do with my life”. I don’t even have the energy to type a question mark. I’ve been up for three hours already and am feeling pretty convinced that I’ll never amount to anything more than chewed aglets.
She answers, “Whatever you want. Take a deep breath and write down everything you want to do. Then decide. Nothing is forever; relax. Try something new or go on adventure… You don’t have to make a final decision on anything. Have fun. Take a leap of faith. The net will appear. (You are supposed to be jumping off the cliff, and the net catches you, get it?)”
Just a few days ago a laundry detergent ad played before a YouTube video, and it moved me to tears. It was then I knew I needed to make some changes. This gentle push from my mother (who is ever-awe-inspiring) just solidified the fact.
Since graduating, I’ve applied and been accepted into teachers’ college, missed a deadline to secure my spot, read my first Stephen King novel and been put on a “mood stabilizer” drug that my body abruptly rejected in the form of a full body measles-esque attack.
I’m not working in my field or writing as much as I could be, but I am beginning to wake up with a spark of fiery purpose. I read in King’s Misery that “art consists of the persistence of memory.” If there’s one thing I’ve always, always known, it’s that I will write. A million years ago, before I moved to Toronto to study, I picked up a book in an op-shop and read another line that would stick with me forever: “Don’t be afraid of goals that are going to take a long time to achieve, the time will pass anyway.”
I can’t see the future, though I once blew my tax return on a woman who said she could, but I know in this moment that I’m actively affecting it. Every day I’m able to use these 26 letters to make technicolor life out of black strokes on blank white pages, I know I’m one word closer to the woman I want to be.
If I’ve learned anything so far about post-grad life, it’s that everybody is just as flipping scared as I am. But, I think, if we can all harness just a tiny bit of that energy into action, we’re all going to make it out just fine. And who’s to say that just because I’m pedaling burgers to office buildings and young mothers today that I won’t one day work for the New Yorker?
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]