I was sitting in a Cosi, which I don't normally do. However, I was dressed fairly nice, wandering around town until seeing a production of The Crucible, which some friends of mine are in, and being dressed nice meant that I was overdressed for the diners, and it was too early for a bar. So there I was in a yuppie sandwich/coffee bar, a more sophisticated cousin of Starbucks. I admit I felt out of place; worse, I was by myself, and had that awkward "dining alone" feeling. Hense why I was busy writing.
Cosi is all wood and warm tones, bland modern soft rock (Rufus Wainright, 10,000 Maniacs, etc), and vaguely abstract art. But they do have good sandwiches, so I can't begrudge them too much. Young urban professionals--men with goates, women with blond highlights, everone in khaki, the women's bootcut--sat discussing: mergers; hookups; shopping. It was crowded, but I could see why. The first Saturday since October where the temperature climbed above 50 degrees. Even if it wasn't the first Saturday, it felt like it. The streets of Philadelphia were crawling with pale faces. In Rittenhouse Square, people were walking, talking, sitting. Painters out with their canvaces. Couples holding--I swear by the god of cliches--holding hands. The bastards.
There's a certain kind of hope with that first hint of spring. Finally the sun shines with warmth. Finally I don't have to drown in fabric. Finally I can stand outside without worrying about losing body parts. The snow is melting. The air no longer bites.
I've been dreaming about Josh. I hadn't done that until the past few days. I'd been fine, I'd started to get on with my life. I even thought of digging out the mix tape he made me at Christmas. But then my subconscious decided to say "not so fast." And so I've been thinking about him. Where he is. What he's doing. Does he ever think about me, wonder what I'm doing, how I am? I'm sure he feels free. I'm sure he feels fine. For all I know, he's met a new girl and is sleeping with her. Maybe one day he'll wake up, realizing he loves her. Something he never did with me. Little did I know he didn't even care. "My feelings just aren't strong enough to continue." I still don't understand. We never fought. He didn't seem bored. There were no awkward pauses.
Everywhere I go I see couples. Happy couples. Old. Young. Yuppies. Punks. All races. All of my friends are in some sort of relationship. I usually am not, and so I got used to being alone. I hated when they'd pity me, when they'd set me up on blind dates. And suddenly, I was with someone, and it didn't matter that I didn't see my friends all that often, because I had Josh.
But now, I'm back to being alone. Physically. Everyone is too busy for me, everyone is with their SO. No one has time for me. My boyfriend, in the end, didn't even want me. And now?
It amazes me how happy yuppies seem. I wonder if they really are. Skinny blondes. Buff boys. All tanned. All work in offices. Insurance. Investing. Whatever. Accountants. Paralegals. Young lawyers. Young stock brokers. People who would come into my store and treat me like a serf. Drinking lattes. They seem very happy. I'm not happy. And I dont' know if I'd be happy as one of them.
When I was a kid, I used to get beat up for looking different. Namely, I was grunge before there was such a name. So my mom made me go out and buy new clothes, clothes that would match the preppy kids. I wasn't happy. I knew it was a lie. And so did they. I got beat up anyway. So I stopped wearing the preppy clothes and went back to my ripped jeans and flannel shirt. I wasn't happy, but I was honest.
So why are they happy? Why can they live on sports, shopping? Why do they seem like they'll be content ending up in the suburbs in a few years, after they're through with their drinking and drug stage? Why are they happy?
I'm not happy. I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. I think, sometimes, I'd be happy if I could just drive around in my car, playing my guitar in this bar or that, just crossing the country, not sure where I was going to sleep. It's certainly the classic American Romantic image. Woody Guthrie. Jack Kerouac. I assume I'd be happy doing that. Not tied down. I've never actually done it, so I can't say for sure.
So why are they happy? I would be bored with their life, except that I'm living a poorer version of it. I'm a clerk in a library. I make very little money. I get up and work from 9 to 5. I go out drinking, though not in the expensive clubs like them. I go to bars like Tatooed Moms and drink $2 cans of Pabst. They wear Gucci. I wear Converse. And I'm bored. I'm tired. I don't like what I'm doing. I daydream about just getting in my car and driving, never looking back.
You know, I was happy with Josh. I didn't want to get married, or anything. But I was happy. Talking to him. Going to the movies or plays. Waking up next to him. I was just happy. It was strange, being happy like that. Maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe I'm supposed to wander around alone. Maybe normal human contact, normal human existence--normal American yuppie happy existence--is out of my league.