I’m going back to campus for the first time in a while. I have to make sure I have an office, check in with my boss that she’s still okay with my existence, and make sure people still recognize me because most of my co-workers have never seen me looking like an actual well-rested person. I’m going back. I don’t want to.
In this lull before any of the real responsibility hits again, when the only thing really pressing is how uncomfortably warm my cat is while she’s lying on my foot, I can think of a lot I’d rather do than go back to work. Maybe if I look at what I’d rather be doing, I’ll find some profound hidden truth about myself. Maybe I’ll learn what it is that can truly make me happy. Or maybe I’ll just confirm how rational it is to prefer my bed to anywhere else in the world.
I have to get used to a new office with new office mates and new chairs and new windows and new strange smells coming up from the floor. Naturally, I’d rather get used to a cave. When I spend any amount of time thinking through what I’ll have to do in this new office, I can’t help but think of how wonderful it would be to instead set up shop in a nice rocky cavern in the side of a mountain deep in the woods. Instead of wiping old granola crumbs off a stained cushion, I could chat with some nice bats about maybe giving me a section of the cave floor free from guano. Instead of testing my battle prowess for the desk with a decent shot of the window, I could settle in a cool crevice where no light could ever reach. Instead of putting up a sign with my office hours, I could put up signs to ward off all but the most foolish of adventurers who wish to invade my cave in search of wealth. I want the cave, but I’m going back to an office.
Instead of letting my voice grow hoarse from screaming inarticulate threats at the printer I have to use to make copies of my syllabus, I’d rather fight a cockatrice, a mythical beast that can be roughly described as a dragon with a rooster’s head that can turn even the mightiest of teachers to stone with only its breath. Roaring war cries and wading into the wild flailing of a giant lizard-chicken sounds more straightforward and appealing than having to check with IT that my computer is set up with the right printer, and that my printer code works, and that the printer works at all, and that it can get through my syllabus without jamming so completely that someone has to call a technician again. Being shredded by monstrous chicken feet or tragically transformed into a statue frozen in grim resolution sounds a lot nicer than dealing with this new printer shit.
I remember chatting with colleagues in the halls between classes, boring stuff that pops up when I can’t expect or plan for it. When I think about that entire genre of human contact, I’d really rather be exiled to the woods. It’s not that I don’t like my co-workers or people in general. I like them more now than I ever have. It’s just that I like having time to plan out what I’m going to say or how I’m going to say it, or at least to know what my goal is in the conversation–even if it’s just “being friendly.” But there are no fucking rules in hall chatting. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out and this is just a light time where friends say hi, fucking Brenda drops the news that someone got fired and nobody knows why. Holy shit, Brenda, don’t you think that’s a conversation that we should all be sitting down for? Who was it? Why do people think it happened? What, you don’t have time to talk? How could you come into my life, drop this dangerous information, and just leave. Don’t you know it’s now my responsibility to tell someone new about this? We’re all gossips, Brenda, but you gave me nothing but the headline so now I’m going to look like a fool when I tell Chris. A damn fool, Brenda, this is why I’d rather tough it in the woods and risk the bears. They’ve got nothing on Brenda.
Well, that’s not even a fraction of all the things in the world I’d rather do than return to campus and start work. The list could go on long enough that I’d have to stay home for the next 3-5 weeks writing it, then I’d get fired, then I wouldn’t need to do any silly introspection to figure out that everything I’d rather do deals with nature and fantasy and hiding from people and feeling like my life is completely out of my control sometimes. I could just… sleep.