Not everyone went to Yale. I say that as neither insult nor compliment; I merely say that to open this up with a fact that all of us know. Indeed, to further illustrate the obvious, I’m going to say that not everyone went to whatever school we went went to nor is from whatever place we are from. This is something I’ve only recently begun to wrap my head around–due partly to the fact that I have a big head. I believe this information, obvious as it may be, gets lost in what my boy classifies as the Post-Graduation Psychosis, that condition which affects all those who get degrees only to realize no one gives a shit.
PGP is an affliction that essentially takes what you have known for the last four (or five!) years–and really, you’re whole life–and flings it into the halcyon days of yesteryear. The most basic things, things you were doing before you got that scarlet degree, suddenly make absolutely no sense. You say, “I got gas before I had a degree. Paid for it with my own money. Why does it suddenly hurt to do this? (if you’re a subwayite, feel free to replace ‘gas’ with ‘MetroCard’). All aspects of life have something of a morning-after stubble to them. The seas boil; the sky turns green; a black guy wins the Iowa primary and you realize everything costs money. Luckily, you quickly realize you don’t suffer from the PGP alone; all your friends suffer from it and when you guys converse or get together it’s exceedingly obvious people enjoy getting together more than they used to because life sucks more than it used to. Such is the transition from charmed to real life; such is life with the Psychosis. To varying degrees, it is, for a time, what must be.
But there’s another side to this well-worn coin, a side that brings me back to the beginning: not everyone from where you once were is where you are now. Often times, lost in the fog of the Psychosis is our opportunity for renaissance. While I was staunchly opposed to actively stimulating this change in the transition from high school to college–and still am frankly; on that level, I think that is a more reinvention, a change which begets, among other things, the classic “smart person who acts likes a wild and crazy guy just to prove he is a wild and crazy guy” and the much more personal and insidious ‘blacker than thou’ disciples–I feel differently about it these days.
PGP provides the opportunity for a fairly fresh start as a fairly fresh person in the eyes of those that behold you. Of course, there are obstacles to this. I’m not blind to certain realities of industry and spheres of influence; some schools and some businesses monopolize and create small circles which act merely as different interpolations of life when keg stands were still socially acceptable. And yes, a lot of those new people beholding you are idiots not really worth dealing with, but, in separating the wheat from the chaff, some good bread can emerge (Sidebar 1: For real though, the Idiots are another PGP whammy. They’re a reality that can escape you when you’ve spent nearly half a decade at an institution of higher learning: Out in the world, lots of people are dumb. And I don’t think people are dumb because they did or didn’t go to college; I think a lot of people are dumb because they’re idiots. Those who have suffered from PGP have, on more than one occasion, furrowed their brow in disbelief and said of another, “Are you serious right now?” Is that to say there are not knuckleheads in college? Obviously not, but it is to say the spike in idiocy can be almost disconcerting).
Yet, there is still a silver lining. In the non-continuation world, the world where we ignore idiots as they should be ignored, you can be born full grown (or at least a good approximation of young and fully grown), informed by the past but not dictated by it. This is vastly different from college where staying the same is staying the same and changing and finding one’s self becomes so routine that it becomes staying the same. It’s a velvet strait jacket. To those new people we meet in the world, college is a footnote, an interesting backstory which needs only inform the present as much as you want it to. This is neither deception nor denial; it is merely the recognition that you have the power to make those things matter as little or as much as you wish.
In my own life, I can say I look back on college with a guarded fondness. Distance and difference have already begun to soften the more prickly edges of the past and make me cherish the good times perhaps a bit more than I should. Certain water has long flowed under the bridge and I can look out onto it appreciating it for everything it was and everything it was not. Now I find myself in the exciting and troubling space of being in a world where the people I interact with know nothing of Eli breakfast sandwiches and don’t spend any time at all attempting to rectify this. More importantly, that I do know of them makes little difference. Life is created with each new interaction and those interactions are essentially informed by our last interaction. As my friend once said, we’re every age we’ve ever been at the same time, so I’m not claiming amnesiac status here, but I am saying The old way of doing business is nearly as applicable as it once was. In this next phase of life, the question is not, “who am I?”; rather, it is, “who am I now?”
Now, anyone that knows me knows how much the past and history and memory are central to my being, so it’s without understatement that I say I find this question and this element of the Psychosis fascinating. I don’t have to be someone else, someone I am not, but I also don’t have to be someone I once was. That is both freeing and terrifying. And at this juncture, I will use my license as a writer to bring up old shit to prove a point:
As some of you know, my family’s business is theatre and, in keeping with tradition, I’m directing a musical (that’s gonna be tight by the by). Anyway, I was shooting the breeze after rehearsal one day, as we are wont to do after rehearsal, and I was talking about this peculiar stage of life–the conversation that prompted me to write this. As I spoke, I found myself marveling at all the things I was not saying. In my mind, I scrolled through the things I hadn’t mentioned about college, the things that used to seem so terribly and totally relevant and now seem particular and circumstantial. I got lost in these thoughts and suddenly turned to the lead actress and said:
“What does Wolf’s Head Society mean to you?”
Peace to the Spirit Warrior.
Penultimate Thought: AAA was in hearts with me last week.
Final Thought: I feel bad for my dad a lot because I generally expect him to know how to do everything.