Boxing Days (II)

by thanklemons

I am turning 26 on the day after Christmas, and the whole affair seems too big for me. I’m approaching the age where birthdays are a reason to stick one’s head in the sand and hibernate for two weeks with too much wine and a supply of favorite books, only to emerge stealthily from hiding some days after the offending occasion, hoping no one has remembered or noticed or cared. (Perhaps my view of the future is too bleak.) At any rate, each passing year is the disappearance of another box marked with the transience of youth. Permanence is settling upon my life, a thick fog weighing down on me, and the world expects me to choose.

And the one thing in life I have never been able to do is choose.

At the grocery store last week, I spent 20 minutes in the pasta aisle because I couldn’t decide what kind of noodles I wanted on hand for the week ahead.  This is my M.O. I spin in circles and I don’t know how to stop. Worst of all, no matter what I do, I end up with buyer’s remorse. I got into the checkout line flustered and frustrated with how much time I wasted choosing noodles, and a man with an energy drink shuffled into line behind me.

“That’s it?” I asked him, and when he nodded, I stepped aside. “You should go ahead of me– I have all this stuff!”

He was skeptical, warning me he still needed cigarettes from behind the counter, that he may waste my time. I waved him forward all the same – his checkout still wouldn’t take as long as mine. He thanked me profusely, which struck me as silly for something so small, so I demurred and looked away, and while I wasn’t paying attention, he paid for half my groceries. Then, I was the one with over-the-top gratitude. All he told me was, “Thank you for being a good soul.”

Those are words I took to heart, mostly because I feel they were undeserved. What makes a ‘good soul’, anyway? But there you are: some choices are simple, and perhaps they are the ones that matter most.

So maybe, entering my late 20s, the decisions that matter are the ones that will come naturally. Maybe the answer is simply “Fuck the rest.” Maybe, instead of feeling boxed in by oppressive dichotomies, I should feel empowered and capable. Maybe.

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