I wrote this a year or so ago, still so very prevalent
First I have to climb out of bed, that’s the hardest part. On a good day it’s only five flights down and out the door. On laundry day its six flights down, six flights up (both with way too many clothes) and then the five flights down and out. Across the quad, (which is kind of a round-about route since they have blocked the closest exit due to construction) down the stone steps into the Muddy River Greenway, up the stone steps out of the Muddy River Greenway and to the Longwood D Green Line T Station.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Up the T-steps to pay, down the T steps to find a seat, sometimes that seat being on the T steps. Down the T steps at Park, down the steps to the Red Line.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Out at South, up the escalator, up the steps, down the street, over the bridge (no Grandma’s house), up the elevator to the ninth floor, up the naval-themed steps and then and only then into my office chair that costs me twelve dollars a week in T rides to reside in. Literally, they aren’t paying me; I pay them twelve dollars each week to get there.
I am a child of our times. That may seem obvious; I cannot help but be alive in the time in which I was born. Otherwise I would not be me. But I mean it in a deeper sense. Not so much a child of our times, but a product. We are all products to some extent in this technological world; we mold our actions to conform and to be useful. I’m offering my services for gratis, hoping for a return on my investment.
I am a child of the computer age, a middle schooler of 9/11 and a college graduate of the 2008 financial crisis. The last one made me an adult. I write this looking across to the Boston skyline, not from my penthouse, but from the rooftop garden of my grad school. In another year’s time I will have added two master’s degrees to my two bachelor’s’, my two associate’s and my two-plus years of unemployment.
I’m not quite sure how this happened. Yes, there was a recession but I was in the top 10% of my high school class, I had a full college scholarship, I graduated with honors and awards. If anyone could land a job in this economy, I, in my pride, knew it would be me. I had no doubts. But pride comes before a fall and there are many, many stairs to fall down here.
I am a child of the digital age. I have the whole world at my fingertips, a whole web of knowledge in my pocket. I remember my father circling newspaper ads in blue pen for jobs within 50 miles but I can search the whole world, nothing can stop me. Nothing has stopped me, just slowed me down. Two cross-country moves in two years. A product of my age. I am used to instant gratification, free information and beliefs of American superiority. How long do I wait to be free?
Overqualified and under-qualified. I start to scream in my head at them, “I am not too educated for this job! I am too smart to be poor. Well then let me drop the degrees, I am too poor to be smart.” What can I do then but become smarter?
Even with no loans to defer I return to school, my safe haven. But a Master’s is no longer knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is for the mastery of employment options. What courses should I take to obtain an internship? What internship should I take to obtain a job? How many loans do I accrue in order to get paid? How many subway rides do I pay for in order to volunteer? How many days do I waste to one day be prosperous?
Do I take the internship that’s closest and save on my fares? Do I take the one that’s more closely aligned with my field? Do I take the one that has the biggest, most prestigious name that can be placed on my resume, that paper that is proof of my human worth?
Shell out, shell out, shell out and some day you will be given something in return. A social security system where society wants my work and gives me no security. But although I pay 12 dollars a week to gain a word on that paper, I work less and pay less than the law students, staring into the void of the internet to bring justice to others because they can find none for themselves, working 40 hours for free and paying law school prices on top of it.
Internships and volunteering. I’ve tried my hand at both. I spent a weekend at a conference, registering all the out of town guests next to a girl in my field of study but not from my school, a point she made sure to make. After ten minutes of knowing each other (if you can call it that because I cannot recall her name) she informed me that she went to summer camp with Mark Zuckerberg who still had a pair of her sweatpants. Social climbing. Those are steps I haven’t taken yet.
Waiting at Longwood, waiting at Park, waiting at South.
Standing, swaying, sweating, waiting.
“Front door exit only”
Pushing, pushing, cursing, pushing.
Up the anarchist bullet-pocked steps of the John Adams Courthouse, up the metal steps of the Old Harvard Divinity Library, up the grand steps of Countway, down the sweeping steps of the JFK, up the back stairs of the Boston Athenaeum (the elevator is being repaired), up the navel-themed steps of Carmen Ortiz’s office again, back up the five flights to my tiny dorm room, out of breath. Down the five flights again to flee the mess, one flight to find the entrance of the library, one flight once inside to find quiet in the library, up the stairs to the second floor therapist office once a week to find not only quiet but also peace. I swear Boston is made of stairs.
Climbing, climbing, climbing from one interview to the next each one a landing to catch my breath on before I realize I’m not there yet and have to keep on climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing, waiting to rise above.
Sitting in this roof-top garden I can see the Pru. I had an interview there once. 28th floor, no stairs, thank God. I can see it from here just as I could see this garden from the gorgeous boardroom there. I laugh and I think of two different Mes, one at the Pru, one here sitting on the rooftop, waving at each other.
I guess one day it may just be so. The future me may be able to look down from the 28th floor and survey all that I’ve been able to overcome. However the present me can only continue looking up.
I never climbed trees as a child. I’m not scared of heights; I just wasn’t one for athletic activity. I was the bookworm and choose a book-related field in order to keep it that way. I wanted to shut myself away in a corner, alone with the stories, mine and those of others but it’s not something that can be done. There is still a physical and social component to the most introverted of lives. We all must climb. Climb out of bed, climb out of our shells, climb to new heights, and climb to new opportunities.
I guess it’s a good thing there are so many stairs in Boston, someday I might just reach the top.