Burdened with the best ones
It’s the beginning of March and in a few days I will be boarding a plane headed to Key West, Fl. It’s my first “college spring break;” the first time my final destination has been somewhere other than home in Gloucester. I almost avoided the plans. I almost stayed in Charlottesville to “work on my thesis” while my sister and my roommates Emma and Georgia flew down to 80-degree weather. But they convinced me back in January I would do more moping than working if I stayed behind, and so here I am — buying bathing suits and looking up good brunch places.
One of my roommates recently asked, in all seriousness, “Do other people have this much fun?” We weren’t sitting around sipping cocktails at Skybar, or getting our nails done, or party-hopping on a Friday night. We had all just purchased hand-puppets. We snapped pictures, made videos, took the whole gang to the mall and to dinner — waving at people on the road with small colorful elephants and piglets on our hands. “No,” I responded, “I don’t think other people have this much fun.”
I’ve never exactly been a people person. I sneer at people who move in large groups, people who can’t leave the house without a walking buddy. I like to be alone. I like being able to see and hear and do things without another human’s presence intruding on my moment.
But lately I have been burdened with the presence of other people. I try to lock myself in my room to study, blasting my Avett Brothers Pandora station and sipping cold Americanos. I even plug in a fan in my room, turned all the way up so as to muffle any outside noises. And it works; I usually can’t hear a thing. But I still know what’s going on out in my living room, out in the space filled with those burdensome people. And try as I might, I can’t miss a second of it.
It’s easy for me to live in my tiny world of the Hardaway twins. Well, actually, that world is often tumultuous and heart-wrenching, and sometimes the most difficult place to be. But it’s a world that makes sense — a world I’ve always known. I’m not used to sharing my most intimate space with anyone other than my original roommate: my sister. I’ve slowly had to learn the basic social rules for living with people who are not your blood relatives: No, you cannot eat their Chinese leftovers at two in the morning, even if you are “so hungry.” You cannot leave piles of candy wrappers and chewed up gum on every bare surface. You cannot leave the door unlocked. Luckily, my roommates have been patient with me — gently reminding me when I have slipped into my bad habits. I used to think it would be so burdensome to have to live with and deal with personalities other than my own. But now I realize how happy a burden can be. And sometimes people make the happiest ones of all.
For New Year’s, my sister, Georgia, Emma and I had our first big trip together. We went to Nashville, where we went to a Coyote Ugly Bar and discovered multiple thrift stores. We found a quaint coffee shop in East Nashville and a bar that played country hits until two o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Eve. We had a great time, with a few hiccups along the way. New Year’s Eve, around the time the band stopped playing in the crowded honky-tonk, the four of us started to butt heads, all wanting different things for the end of our night. My sister and I viciously fought, as we are wont to do, and my friends desperately tried to sort us out. We all yelled, my sister pouted, I cried. It was raining and cold and we were not having any fun on the sidewalk in Music City at four o’clock in the morning. But we made it back to where we were staying, all safe, all together. And I knew then that I had people who I could depend on, and people who I could look forward to spending time with, even if that time involved rainy streets and rude taxi drivers.
I think my first true spring break trip as a college-aged adult will be great. Not because of the weather or the bars or the brunch places, but because I know I’ll be sharing it with the three people who have put on hand puppets and waved to passersby down Route 29 with me. The three who will cackle with laughter and blare “Come on Eileen” in the living room so that try as I might, I can’t stay locked up in my study nook.
I’m burdened with people. Not people I giggle in class with, or study for a few tests with, or even people I meet through one CIO or another. I’m burdened instead by the people I love — the people whose worlds are simultaneously identical and completely different from my own. I still don’t think I’m a people person, and I doubt I ever will be. But I do think that I could be called an “Emma-person” or a “Georgia-person” and always, of course, a “sissy-person.” Because as everything comes to an end, and we take our last trips, go to our last midterms, say goodbye to our last months as U.Va. undergraduates, there are still burdens — so many happy burdens to look forward to.
Mary Scott’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.