Still the cold is closing in on us

After four years, the sixty-mile drive to school has become second-nature. I scoff at people who complain about supposedly long drives, dismissively citing my own daily commute to school as “nothing.” It has come to the point where I don’t even have to concentrate on driving; I get from Point A to Point B – and back again – in a perfectly safe fashion, but without having to actively think about it.

Lately, though, the drive, along with everything else school-related, has been getting to me. Much of it has to do with the fact that the first summer session is coming to an end soon, finals are any day now, and second session starts next week. I admit there have been many good things about this session: sleeping in, eating real meals, hanging out with beautiful friends (and family) who inspire me. But, ultimately, it comes back to academics: I’m tired of not pushing myself as hard as I should have, of trying to prove myself – to myself – and not meeting the goals and standards I set for myself, of being at that academic “eff it all” stage that Somayya and I have joked about since freshman year, but which isn’t really funny if you think about it. My GPA, for example, doesn’t find it amusing at all. I feel like I’m wasting my time and my parents’ money, and if there were ever a good enough reason for me to take a break, that’s it right there.

I’m registered for second summer session classes, but just thinking of that makes me feel suffocated, as if it’s difficult to breathe. I don’t want to have to deal with another six weeks of feeling overwhelmed and burdened. Even with four years of year-round school, I’ve never before had such an adverse reaction to taking a class. I’m too young to be feeling burned-out, dammit.

Driving home tonight, lost in my own thoughts, I decided to join the real world long enough to realize that I wasn’t even as close to home as I thought I was. You’ve still got forty miles to go, buddy boy! jeered the little voice in my head.

And I thought: Dammit, I don’t want to do this anymore. Not for a while, at least. God, get me home already. Ten miles later, my exit at the interchange was closed due to construction, and I had to go through the drama of taking detours. I don’t like drama, in case you didn’t know. Finally, just a few miles from home, slowing down due to flashing signs and lights that warned of an accident, I glanced to my right and gasped in horror. In the far right lane, right up against the freeway divider wall, were the remnants of two cars that had collided. And I mean remnants in the most devastating way possible. All I could make out were crumpled bits of red metal, chunks of steel that I could have picked up with my hands and dropped in a trashcan. I have never before seen cars reduced to such minute rubble. If anyone in those cars survived that crash, it’s a miracle of God. I drove the rest of the way home in tears, muttering incoherent prayers under my breath.

It was not a good drive.

I’m getting tired of driving, and I never thought I’d say that.

I want a full tank of gas to last longer than two-and-a-half days. I want to go running early in the mornings and take naps on the sofa during the day and perform my prayers punctually and spend quality time with my mother. I want to remember why I used to consider myself just as much an artist as I do a writer. I want to browse through Main Street and reply to people’s emails and learn slick tricks in Photoshop and feel cool Bay Area breezes instead of waves of blazing Sacramento Valley heat. I want to do all the things I mentioned in that one list, without remembering that there actually is a list.

When my friends come to me with their problems (which seems to happen often, Lord only knows why), I generally listen patiently and give careful advice. But sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly intolerant, I snap, “If you refuse to do anything about it, you have no right to whine about it.”

Looks like it’s about time I took my own advice.

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