I am now living a post-college life.
I am not back with my parents. I’m living with a woman that I love.
I am employed, although not in the traditional, 9-to-5, health-and-dental-benefits sort of way.
I can pay my bills, do what I want, and still sock some away for a rainy day.
I have no student loan debt to drive me through the next few years.
What do I do with my life now?
I’m twenty-one years old. I spent the day fixing my pipes and worrying that they were leaking into the basement. (Here, it might be worth mentioning that I’m living in a repurposed old train depot stacked somewhere in the Colorado Rockies: the type of structure that has exposed rafters, corroded tin roofing, and looks like it might not survive a strong gust of wind. It has housed master blacksmiths, heroin junkies, and ski bums. Nails protrude from the walls. I am entirely serious when I say there are two rooms I don’t use because I fear the floors collapsing under my weight. It is most certainly not up to code.)
And yes, I love that story. I’m in love with the idea of living the artists’ life here. I know I will keep the story and the period in my mind and my narrative for years to come. “This is your novel,” my mother said. She may be right— there’s a Phillip Lopate-style essay in this creaky old galley, for sure.
But between the lines— the scenery and the oddity— there’s day-to-day. One of my personal heroes, David Foster Wallace, addressed the subject perfectly in a wonderful 2005 commencement address to the graduates of Kenyon College. Three years after delivering that rousing call to action, Wallace would go on to seek a final escape from what he called our “natural default setting” by slipping a noose around his neck and stepping into the emptiness.
On his desk when he died: his manuscript for The Pale King, an interminable novel that treats with the central theme of boredom.