There are some drives that you tell people are an hour, and you mean it in the sense that if you hit every red light, manage to get stuck behind a horse and buggy, and have to swerve to hit dear, then it may be an hour. You tell them it’s an hour because why explain that it’s probably only 50 minutes.
The drive to my college from Columbus is not one of those drives. It is a drive that is an hour, and it will always be an hour no long how your flight was, how badly you have to pee, or how tired you are of making small talk with the people you’re sharing a cab with. It’s just an hour.
You go through Centerburg, and you realize that you still have half an hour to go, not the 15 or even 20 minutes it would be if it was a fake-hour drive.
You pull out your tiny graph paper Rhodia notebook since you better do something with this half an hour back to Gambier. You write best when you’re traveling, you decide. You don’t know if this is exactly true, but you declare it to be. You think best when you’re moving, when the constant farmland becomes meditative, or when clouds don’t have animals in them anymore.
When you write, you start thinking about the presentation you’re going to give this summer, one on expectations, one hopefully of hope. You’re going to be speaking to high schoolers. High school is a hard time. No one knows what they are, yet everyone assumes that everyone else does. You’re trying to figure out what the hell you are supposed to be doing, and the answers you’re given don’t feel right to you. You remember that quote: the earliest years, the more important ones, are the trickiest. Emerging from nothingness takes time.
When you think about the presentation, you think about what else you’re doing this summer. You’re supposed to be interning, shadowing, doing something to make up for the C that you got on your last chemistry exam. You’ve heard back from one place, an email asking if “u have horse experience.” U do, you email back.
As you go over the hills that seem to have no speed limit, you wonder how you are supposed to tell these kids any advice. You’re still young. Most days, you trip over something, drop your keys in the middle of the doctor’s office, run over a squirrel on the way to a vet’s office. When you try to kiss him, your noses somehow bump each other, and you end up laughing instead. You probably spent too much time with the Underwood’s over spring break, and not enough with those around you. You should have finished your drink your mom poured you, helped with the Jeep your brother and dad are trying to build. You shouldn’t have complained about not having your own car.
You want to stop writing, but the paper is too nice. You want to tell them that you don’t have anything to tell them. You are too imperfect to help these emerging creatures. You, too, are emerging.
Maybe that is all they need to hear. You can be an adult and be imperfect. You can be driving to shadow at the vet’s and kill a squirrel on the way. You can try, as hard as you can, to walk in heels when you go to the Short North for dinner, but you will still trip. You can fail your first quiz and still want to be a bio major. Hell, you can fail your second quiz and still want to go to vet school.
Live in this imperfection, you tell them. You don’t think that you can live any other way.