Hey you, have you felt it too? Are you as uncomfortable as I am? Is there a plan for this kind of situation?
Are we going to talk about it?
I feel as though I am being asked these questions on a daily basis. My friends and I, even acquaintances, we trade bewilderment in silence. Occasionally, someone will try to soothe the rash with a platitude like “Wow, it’s been such a weird semester.” We approach each other like patients with the same illness, embarrassed and conspiratorial. The un-conversations hover around me every day and I suspect they’ve been there since the beginning of the school year – maybe longer. The un-words hang in the air between us, deadening the sounds of our confusion.
There’s an agitation on campus that none of us seem able to talk about.
In the liquid heat of an unnatural autumn, we all seem to be frustrated about something. There’s a suppressed restlessness, and not just among my fellow seniors. It goes beyond the usual angst of our approaching graduation and the hectic flurry of tasks that must be accomplished before we’re tagged and released into the “real world.”
Maybe we’re going crazy because we’re trapped in stagnant weather that feels like the reheated leftovers of a long-expired summer. Maybe we’re going crazy because, on any given week, we may be wiped off the earth by an apocalyptic storm or an unimaginable exchange of nuclear weapons. Maybe we’re going crazy because our country is neurotically divided on whether athletes have the right to kneel but no one seems to doubt that Puerto Ricans have a right to die waiting for help.
There is a restlessness in this issue as well. There are Charlestonians who restlessly track the rising rent in their neighborhoods and the shrinking number of grocery stores. There are young people restlessly demanding a new kind of idol. Restless students are working 40 hours a week, in addition to classes, just to keep a roof over their heads. Restless conversations flare up and die all across campus – abortive attempts at the same political conversations we’ve been not-having for a year.
I feel agitation everywhere and I wonder if you feel it to.
I hope we start talking soon before we all burst like toads under the tires of a truck. Don’t hold back. Don’t delay and don’t kid yourself – everything only happens once. You will never be in this place again and things were never perfect.You were never perfect. Don’t swallow it down, let it erupt. Write. Talk. Argue, especially with your friends. Do it face to face.
After all, it’s only October. We have one more good storm left in us yet.
*This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of The Yard.