Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Peak. Part One.

My first bona fide twentysomething freakout hit on June 16, 2004. I was in the kitchen of Murray-Dodge Hall at Princeton University, attempting to defrost three pounds of frozen chicken and make guacamole at the same time. Neither task was going well.

I should probably preface this with the fact that I tend to avoid the pressing issues on my mind by diving into rudimentary tasks--cooking, fidgeting with electronics, breaking small objects by fidgeting with them--it all applies. So, this is what I was doing here. I was on the managing board of a small theater that operated out of the university, and I was having a blast. There were some kinks that needed to be worked out, but by and large, everything was going well. We were 12 kids in our early twenties, putting together five shows that summer. We lived together, we worked together, we slept together (a story for another time...) and we cooked for one another.

This was taco night. We had 15 people coming to dinner in an hour. And, inexplicably, a wave of panic hit me.

I remember throwing the chicken into a wok to defrost it as this thought hit me:This is the best time you've ever had. I loved that summer. We were young, we were working hard, we were having those experiences that make for great stories down the road. I smiled as I attempted to de-ice the chicken.

As I moved on to the woefully underripe guacamole, the aforementioned thought's spunkier little brother wormed his way in:It is never going to get better than this. You have to get a real job in the fall. This is temporary. Your life will never be this good again.

I froze. I stared at the guacamole, bounced back to check on the chicken, and then tore off for the bathroom, located in a secluded corner of the kitchen. It was two parts toilet, one part altar, It had this weird little Alice-In-Wonderland toilet that required you to climb up three steps and mount the toilet on its ridiculous pedestal.

I climbed the steps, got on my knees, and anointed the pedestal-altar-toilet by throwing up into it.

Your life will never be this good again.

I clung to the toilet bowl for a good five minutes, letting my stomach settle as the flopsweat poured down my brow. Then, I got up, cleaned myself up thoroughly, and finished the guacamole. Dinner that night was passable. I think I drank three coronas alongside the tacos. Alcohol is GREAT for the twentysomething freakout. I didn't get much sleep that evening. We ended up watching "Elephant" that night, which had an oddly soothing note of finality to it.

Your life will never be this good again.

It's that very thought that got me into grad school.

But that's a story for another time.

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