Why I'm Happy

I went four months this summer without physically touching another human being. The only reason I broke this streak was because I brushed against the fingers of a barista handing me my coffee. The touch was barely perceptible, but after four months, it felt so intimate that I walked away feeling like we had just made out for forty five minutes. 

This summer did a lot of strange things to people. For me, as unpleasant as it was, it also brought about some personal revelations. 

Summer of 2020 chewed me up and spit me out, not covered in teeth marks, but with a greater appreciation for life.

Before I explain why, I just want to say that this is by no means me preaching that ‘Be Positive!’ nonsense. Everyone has their own circumstances, and it’s not my place to say how you should feel. This is just a story about why I feel how I feel. I hope there’s some kind of value in that.

The first few months of quarantine found me right alongside the rest of my generation; lying on my bedroom floor at 3 am, crying. My acne had returned from stress, I had stopped exercising and shaving, and my eyes were sunken and bloodshot. If I had had substances to abuse, I can admit that I probably would've been doing just that.

To say that getting a job made my life better would be incorrect, but it did give me something to do. Despite the fact that that something was cleaning fish guts from the bottom of a public garbage can or hand mixing concrete, it gave me a different perspective, and that was enough. 

I started spending a massive amount of time alone. Even after work, I’d row out to the middle of a lake and spend hours just sitting quietly.

I started thinking about my dreams, and appreciating the simple, universal truths in nature. I started processing my emotions, and thinking about my relationship with the rest of the world. I started reading again, and journaling and hanging out in cemeteries. 

In short, I got to know myself really really well. It wasn’t so much a ‘journey of self-improvement’ as it was a natural sequence of events. It was bizarre. A manic fever dream where I was looking at the world upside down through a snapchat filter.

Was it a good summer? Absolutely not. My mental and emotional health was the worst it’s been since middle school, and despite working two jobs almost every single day, I didn’t even make that much money. 

That being said, I feel like I’ve grown as a person. Nestled in that hotbed of racism and toxic masculinity that is my hometown, I had a lot of time to think.

In general, I feel as though I am a more selfish person now than I was before, but I think I needed that. I’ve learned boundaries. I’ve learned how to say no once and a while. I have more self respect, self interest, and self confidence. I’m channeling my inner capricorn, or at least trying to.

Coming back to college after a summer like that has been one of the strangest experiences of my life. 

What makes it stranger still is the fact that I really have no idea when I’ll be torn. 

Every time I talk to someone, I walk away from the interaction with a sense of awe. I treasure moments that I would’ve immediately forgotten last year. Everything seems precious, fleeting, and incredibly valuable. 

Life is so unbelievably rich. It’s like really decadent cheesecake; you take one little bite and have to sit down for a while. 

In the words of Keith Richards, “I’m just happy to be anywhere.”