I remember being a child and thinking I was important, that what I thought and felt mattered, that when I told someone I had a dream about being a bookcase they actually cared. If I could go back in time, I’d grab myself by the shoulders, shake myself to ensure I’m paying attention, and I’d say clearly while making painfully intense eye contact: “nobody cares what you want to be when you grow up, not your teacher, not the bus driver, not the guy in the grocery store checkout line, nobody. And you’d make an awful archaeologist because Indiana Jones is just not an accurate depiction of fieldwork.”
I’m–mostly–grown up now, and I’ve changed a lot in the years I’ve put between me and my childhood. I’m a bit taller, I cuss more, and I can buy ice cream with my own money and ruin my appetite before dinner just because I want to. Unfortunately, adulthood is both being able to eat ice cream before dinner and not doing it because you know better. My aspirations have also changed since I was a tiny child. I’ve abandoned my desire to delve into the ruins of antiquity to see what treasures I can find. Instead, I’ve grown more realistic goals.
Lately, I just want a nap, but when I say nap, I have a very specific image in mind. I don’t just want a brief fling with my bed and blanket; I want a full-scale napping experience. I want to have time to feel it coming, feel the nap building in my chest. I want to start in the kitchen, drinking a warm glass of herbal tea. I’d put my tea side, half-finished because it’s a tea of leisure, not necessity. Then, I’d drift upstairs to my room, spread myself across my bed so a lazy sunbeam lounges on my chest, and then I’d drift to sleep, uncaring of both how long it took me to fade away and of how much time exactly that would leave me to rest. I do not want my nap to be scheduled. And when I wake up, I want it to be just as slow. I want to stretch, pet my cat, meander downstairs to make a new cup of tea, decaffeinated because there’s still no hurry.
I had a lot going on when I was a kid. Between my dreams of archaeology and also of being president of dragons, I was pretty enthusiastic about life. I carried that vigor into school, and by the time the first year was over, I was ready for the next. I’ve been back at school for 2 weeks now, plowing through my master’s program like a worm through wet cement, and I’ve entirely lost that enthusiasm. Even the thought of being president of dragons sounds like a lot of responsibility for someone who couldn’t light a candle with their breath if a birthday depended on it. I don’t dream of getting my degree anymore, I just want to be done. I have 9 months left of people being able to evaluate my work on their standards instead of mine, of not yet being done with something that has taken way too long. I recognize that everything in life will resemble the exact things I’m frustrated with now, but I’m hoping at least for it to feel a little different. I used to eat a lot of microwaveable dinners, and I always knew I’d left them cooking for too long when the black plastic tray started to warp and shine. College has been microwaving me for too long, and now I’d love it if someone would pull me out, look at me, and probably not eat me because microwave dinners–at least, the ones I ate–have the nutritional value of a basketball and the texture to match.
I’m not dead just yet. School is hard, and I’d love to sleep the next nine months away. I want to be done mostly because I want to get to work. I’m only in week 2 with my current students, but they seem like great groups, and it doesn’t sound weird to me that if I like a job, am good at it, that I should want to do just that for a while. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, but wouldn’t it be funny if a child stared down some faux inquisitive adult and said “well, I’m really enjoying having no responsibilities and my work with crayons is unrivaled in my field, so I think I’d like to be a child for a while thanks.” I’m planning on moving on to a PhD eventually, and I’m almost through with my MA, but sweet fuck I cannot wait to just spend a little time being done. Just a little.