“You’re doin’ what we all doin, baby. You’re gettin’ by.”
Like most single 20-somethings, I’m in a pretty serious relationship with Netflix. Sometimes I pretend I’m watching the “acceptable” things, like documentaries and House of Cards, but if I’m being honest, more often than not I’m cycling through some kind of terrible 90s movie or a show I’ve seen before, most likely multiple times. I know there’s a whole world of new choices on there and I should explore beyond Clueless and Dawson’s Creek, but there’s a comfort in having words, images, stories that I know playing on loop to the backdrop of what sometimes feels like every night. Lately, I’ve been watching Weeds for the
second well third let’s just say I’ve seen it before, when that line popped up in season one. I paused for a minute and sat with those words, wrote them down so I could see them in my own hand, said them out loud so I could hear what it meant coming from me. They’ve stuck with me this week, and I’m still trying to figure out why.
If I take a step back and look at my life as a big picture, there’s really only one way to describe it: pretty fucking great. I live on my own in a one-bedroom in New York City. I’ve risen swiftly through the ranks of my profession and I’m currently with a company that encourages continued growth and learning. I can stretch and bend in some pretty impressive shapes after only a few months teaching myself yoga. I spent seven weekends this summer traveling to places near and far, and my plans for the rest of the summer involve carefree relaxing with the people I love the most. And yes, that is a fair bit of humblebragging because I don’t want to play the next thought as a woe is me. I have no use for pity because at the end of the day, things are going pretty okay for me and that’s more than some people can say.
But there are those moments, the nights alone, the meals alone, where it just feels empty. I’ll struggle to find things to say here that aren’t whiny or boring, I’ll hear a bit of feedback from a client that feels like a personal attack. I’ll try to find something to do after work only to remember that my entire group is out of town and also I’m broke till payday. Just this week, a stranger almost knocked me over in the subway and yelled at me for getting in his way, and there was a dead cockroach on the landing 2 floors below me when I left my apartment this morning. I’ve slept in twice this week instead of getting up to do yoga, something I never do anymore, and then berated myself all day that my lazy ass can’t get out of bed at its normal hour, and then I was cranky because I hadn’t stretched. Times like this make it feel like things are slipping out of my control; all I want to do is move forward and I keep getting pushed back.
So in the midst of all the good with all the bad, I had to think about the line above. Is that what we’re all doing? Between constantly battling being completely broke and trying not to go broke, straddling the line between single and confused, finding something you might actually want, only to remember you can’t have it, at least not now, there’s much to be said about getting by. To say you’re “getting by” sounds like you’re coasting, dancing on the edge of easy but never venturing too far into the hard. Getting by should be the kiddie coaster at an amusement park, slow slopes and manageable speeds, not these rickety highs and lows like the old wooden coaster, the kind that makes your head spin and your ears ring, first enthusiasm then adrenaline, and then nausea. Sometimes I think I’m thriving in the chaos and bad times; sometimes I think I’m just surviving, waiting for someone to rescue me from whatever it is I can’t handle. But I guess, in a sense, you could say I’m gettin’ by.
Yesterday I sat at my desk trying to focus on a big project, feeling my thoughts and attention span seep out of my ears like slow honey, coating everything in fatigue and indecision and a sticky-sweet desire to call time out on my life. I felt the quick buzz of my phone and saw a very welcome text, part of a conversation I keep thinking is going to end, but to my surprise and smiles, it doesn’t. It had been a long week, and a tough week, and for a second I thought I might be drowning. But a quick, pick-me-up chat in the morning (afternoon?) put a little color in my cheeks and brought me back to the task at hand. I finished out the night, and went home to a blissfully empty apartment, relishing the chance to turn on the rest of Weeds and settle in with a glass of wine, content to be alone. Maybe it’s not an easy ride all the time, or any time, but every once on a while, there’s something to be said about gettin’ by.