On March 3rd, I had a lot of things on my plate. It would be an understatement to say I was stressed.
I had a huge question mark as to what I was going to do with my life post-graduation… I knew a few possibilities; play soccer in Australia, apply to graduate school or start my broadcasting career but nothing was set in stone. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. What would make me feel fulfilled and happy or whatever feelings successful careers are supposed to make you feel? I didn’t know. I changed my mind constantly and as a good friend said, “it depended on what day you asked.”
I got out of class at 12:30 like I do every Friday. I opened the Groupme app that had been blowing up during class to see an open invite from Sean to join him at Top of The Hill. I had to walk past the restaurant to get home anyways, so I told him I would stop by. Four of us ended up showing. The connection? Our summer internship covering the Olympics in Brazil. We haven’t even known each other for a year. It was nice to catch up and laugh about the uncertainty surrounding our approaching futures. I remember ordering a Moscow mule. Brendan and Sean drank IPO beers. Rachel had pop.
We parted ways with a promise to hang out more often. Everyone does that though, I thought we were just saying it… to say it, like usual. I walked home and twenty minutes later Brendan and Sean are at my front door. Next thing I know we are playing basketball outside of Lux. Tonie, Sean’s girlfriend joins us and we drive to an ice-skating rink. The whole way we sing along to the songs that take us back to high school.
“If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
It’s no air, no air, oh”
My head is spinning because I am so excited to have an escape from the stress and from my mind today. When we arrive we are told that open skating has just ended, but that doesn’t stop us from making another adventure. We play around in the photo booth until we come to terms with being unable to get a good picture. We run outside and decided to get a picture with the pond. Naturally we all race to the other side of the pond to get better lighting.
We very easily could have quit then… But we didn’t. why not? What were we really in search of—maybe just a reason to escape those pressures we’re all feeling? We decide to continue our journey to Frankie’s in Raleigh about thirty minutes away. At this point, it doesn’t matter as long as we have each other today. I’m surprisingly good at the batting cages even though I claim to have no hand eye coordination. We race around the speed track and I am laughing as the cold wind hits me in the face. It doesn’t matter as my teeth shatter because this is exactly what I need. To feel free… from all the weight I am carrying around. From all the ache my heart has been feeling lately. From all my responsibilities, if only for just one day.
The rest of the night is a lot of the same. Just feeling free. Tonie and I climbed the spider web to the top where only children were supposed to be. We bend and squeeze through the slabs of rubber and my hands turn black. There must be so many germs in here… We look over the edge and watch the kids run around the arcade section. We had at least ten kids go up and down as we laid there talking about life. It was nice to see how carefree the kids were. They had the whole world ahead of them. All that playfulness and youth, it made me happy. Now that I think about it, I have the whole world ahead of me too… Yeah, I have more than ten years on them, but I am young and I have not even begun to experience the real world yet. So no matter what comes next. I will remember that when it feels like I have made the mistake of carrying the world and the problems that come along with that on my shoulders. I can always take a Frankie’s day and put the weight down to be reminded that it’s not that serious…
We didn’t have to do any of that: Didn’t have to meet up with friends, didn’t have to have an afternoon drink, didn’t have to air ball 3-pointers or belt out ballads with bursting veins in our necks. But we did, we did all that and more. Maybe we did it because we’re flakes, because we bailed on our stress and procrastinated and literally drove away from our problems. Or maybe it was something more pure—maybe we were just kids, playing, enjoying a day we knew we couldn’t in a month’s time. With all the weights on our shoulders, all the eyes and probing questions and reminders of our uncertain futures, maybe we just learned to stop and enjoy the moment… Even if just for a day.