Based on my typical posts, I know it might seem like I’m perpetually at a low point in my life, but there’s just something about carrying around a roll of toilet paper in public, coughing so intensely you’re actually honking like an asphyxiated goose, and chasing your mom around downtown in heels that just screams “fast forward this life episode, please.”
It began, as these things typically do, on a Friday night. It was the qualifying round for district football playoffs: if we won the game, we’d advance, and if we didn’t, that was it. We lost. But what really mattered, of course, was that, for us dance seniors, there’d be no more football games performing with the team.
Senior: *crying* This is our last football game. Thanks for the memories.
Senior #2: This is the last time I’ll ever set foot on this field.
Senior #3: Season’s over. This is the last first last season of the year.
Seniors, as a collective: This is the last first first last of the first last year. I’M CRYING. FIRSTLASTFIRSTLASTLASTLASTLASTLASTFIRSTLAST
… Or at least, that’s what it sounded like to me.
I, on the other hand, don’t enjoy football as a sport (I prefer soccer), which kind of puts a damper on the whole “mandatory Friday night lights” thing and probably explains why I wasn’t properly sentimental. Also, yes, football games here are vibrant and flashy and spirited, but had everyone forgotten the early practices? Fertilizer-induced rashes? Putting on the morning’s damp leggings that smell like decomposed fish? HOW COLD IT GETS OUTSIDE?
So the fact that I actually felt slightly bittersweet that it was all coming to an end was surprising. Well, not too bittersweet, but to be fair, I may have been a bit too preoccupied worrying about the college interview I had the next morning to reluctantly reminisce.
The past week had been so awful I hadn’t had time to even think about that interview, let alone adequately prepare for it. By the time I got home—around midnight—and booted up my laptop, I was a wreck. Fingers still blocks of ice from a night spent in the wind, I valiantly pulled on three jackets and started to work. And then stopped after about an hour because, at that point, I wasn’t going to recall anything the next day. Also, my throat was getting tingly/crackly, the sure sign of an ensuing cold for me. Panicked, I took a hot bath and even miserably downed Mom’s nasty ginger soup (she doesn’t even deny that it tastes awful), but it was too late.
I woke up, sweating like I’d just been dreaming about my future, at 3AM. I don’t remember falling asleep again, but the next time I awoke, it was 8:50 AM and my throat was so sore I might as well have swallowed Cat’s entire litter box.
I shuffled around the house, snot dripping from my nose, in search of tissues, but, of course, there were none to be found. We’re stocked up on fluorescent cat mittens and 3rd grade DNA science kits, but practical things like scissors or tissues are just asking for too much.
Grabbing a roll of toilet paper as a last resort–the stuff rubs your nose RAW–I flung myself into the car at around 10 AM. My interview was scheduled for 11:15 AM, but it was a half an hour drive downtown. We actually arrived with another half hour to spare. Until we got lost, I mean.
Long story short, navigating downtown is incredibly difficult because most of the streets are one-way and basically unnecessary. And, might I add, especially difficult with an outdated GPS.
Anyway, we ended up abandoning the car somewhere random to find the place on foot. We even resorted to asking strangers to point us in the right direction. The second man looked at us, pulled out his iPhone, and just looked the address up on Google Maps, something I could’ve done but didn’t think to do and was too embarrassed to say so.
The rest of our journey happened so quickly it mostly formed a blur, but I do remember one moment in particular. We were tearing across an empty parking lot, Mom sprinting ahead while I tottered behind, trying to keep up in my heels. It was 11:15, the starting time of my interview, and there I was, wheezing, sneezing, tugging my blazer closed—the wind, on top of everything else, was apparently trying to get me to flash everyone—trying not to choke on my hair and probably two steps away from twisting my ankle.
“Well,” I said—croaked—to the empty parking lot. “This sucks.”
And it did. But I didn’t feel sorry for myself, angry, or even annoyed that everything humanly possible had gone wrong. I didn’t feel anything at all, really. It was like—don’t laugh—I was at peace.
Wherever that feeling came from, it persisted as I entered the 11th floor, signed in at 11:18, and sat down in the student waiting room. (Miraculously, they were running a couple minutes late.) When my interviewer called me up, I serenely followed him into a warm room the approximate size of a car and sniffed only once throughout the entire interview.
An hour later, I walked back out, wondering if it’d all been a dream. Immediately once I entered the car, my postponed cold symptoms hit me like a freight train, and I was yanked back into my puffy-eyed, toilet paper misery.
The world works in mysterious ways.