June 15, 2009

Locked out

Usually when I get home from a long day sitting at a computer and writing, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer and write some more. But today was different.

When I returned to my apartment after work, arms full of groceries, and put the key in the door, the deadbolt wouldn't budge. I was locked out.

In the 20 minutes it took for the maintenance guy to arrive and perform magic on the stubborn door with his bare hands, I had a lot of thinking time. There I was, standing in an empty hallway clenching my futile keys, no cell phone, no contacts, in the middle of nowhere.
I realized the lock wasn't the only thing stuck. For the first time in my life, I have no plan. My old plan, the one I've been working from since I was about 16 years old, went something like this:

1. Get good grades to get into a good university with a well-respected journalism program.
2. Earn money to pay for university. (working every summer since I was 14 didn't quite cover it, but thank goodness the government deigned to give me a little money and a lot of strings.)
3. Secure newspaper internships to boost chances of future employment.
4. Graduate from university with a shiny new journalism degree. (and a crushing debt)
5. Get a full-time job at a newspaper.

And there it ends. All my work for the past eight years was simply a means to that end. And now that I finally have what I always wanted, I'm not sure if I want it anymore.

It's not that I don't like my job. Every week, I come up with 8-10 story ideas of my own, no editor breathing down my neck. Everyday, I talk to new people and learn about a totally different culture. I write meaningful stories for people across this vast territory. At the very least, I write stories that mean something to somebody, sometimes. I have my own office. Isn't that supposed to mean something?
I am isolated, yes, but anyone can be isolated anywhere. At this point, my location has no effect on how much I enjoy my work.

So what is my problem? The answer, I think, lies in one recently uncovered self-truth: I was never a big fan of eggs. Not until I found out how hard it is to get fresh ones this far North. Now, my thoughts drift to omelettes much more often than I'm comfortable with.

I always want what I can't have. And if that's my inescapable truth, I should've dreamed bigger.

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