June 5, 2011

Twenty-Year-Old Logic

I sat on the carpet floor in front of the vanity that held the two sinks on the way to the bathroom in our two-king-sized-bed-one-large-walk-in-closet-attached-bathroom suite. I distinctly remember telling her, "There will be a day when I stop making responsible decisions. I can feel it coming." The central air kicked on and gave me goose bumps.

I held it together that semester the best I could. I made routines and then sought out spontaneity to break them. I burned a vanilla candle every night and curled into bed with my journal. Put Dashboard Confessionals on repeat. "It's colder than it ought to be in March, and I still got a day or two ahead of me till I'll be heading home..." And waited for the night sky to turn purple under the weight of the smog. But I was also the first person to say yes to a late-night trip to the psychic. We climbed into the back of the old BMW and chugged down Melrose until we found a parking space under the pink, florescent sign. Almost mid-night on a Thursday, all six of us piled out of the car.

That semester had a weak structure of broken promises and misconceptions. I learned to grow around them. But its foundation was still uncertainty. I had no idea what the future would hold. I left for L.A. looking for answers that I wouldn't find for years, if ever. “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”  But that didn't keep me from trying. Under the light of the candle, under the light of the psychic's sign. I was the first to say yes, but I never went in. My phone rang and I knew that was the best answer I was going to get.

For most of college, my best friend and I had a mantra: "It's not as bad of a decision, if you know that you're making a bad decision." We offered it quietly at 11pm at first, but it gained its momentum until we said it as a matter of fact at noon lunches. While the rest of the table tried to untangle and debate our twenty-year-old logic. We wouldn't debate it. We wouldn't untangle it. We just stuck to it.

Years later, as in sometime in February of 2010, I realized why we hung onto that mantra for so long: it gave us permission to take risks. It gave us permission to identify and act on what we wanted to do rather than what we thought we should do. We made those "bad decisions" on a regular basis in college, and we made then with the unwavering support of one another. Looking back, I realize, they were never bad decisions. They were declarations of true desires; they were the guts it takes to name those desires and act on them; and they were the unconditional support and love to go. after. what. you. truly. want.

That was almost ten years ago.

I have a vanilla candle that I think it's time to light...

Dashboard Confessionals, A Plain Morning
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five


  1. Kiersten McMonagleJune 5, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    As always - you're writing is amazing, Emily.  I always love reading your posts because they're so well-written and make me smile/think.
    I'm in college myself right now, and I think that you're right - most of what we do when we're young aren't bad decisions. They're part of growing up, and they're a big part of what makes it fun. :)
    <3 Kiersten

  2. I learned so many "life lessons" in college that still apply today (even though life is so, so different). Enjoy it all and try to experience everything you possibly can. It's such a great way to learn and grow! And thanks so much for reading, Kiersten. I love that you come back week after week. XO