Turncoat

I’m bundled up—fingerless gloves and an infinity scarf, puffy jacket and heavy boots—sitting in front of my computer at work. Half of the employees are out today. The office is quiet; most of us with headphones blocking our ears and the low din of the pallid hot air dribbling out of the heating ducts a thin thread in each song. Deadlines have been met so we sit, pretending to work. I’ll let everyone go at two o’clock to start their holiday vacation early.

There isn’t much to look forward to when I leave the office. Not today or most days. Usually, the drive home is the highlight. Loud music, a few cigarettes, and a waning feeling of freedom as I drive from one cage to the next. Funny how a career that allows me to do something I enjoy—and pays well—can feel stifling. I fear I make too much money to say fuck it, I’m gonna throw caution out the goddamn window. I know; real problems are not knowing where your kid’s next meal is coming from, not this puerile bullshit.

Hardship is relative, isn’t it? A decade ago, I worried if I’d be able to make rent. Two decades ago, I worried if my life would continue or I’d end it early. A decade from now, I might be worried about the cancer invading my body or dealing with the loss of my parents. So, thinking about where I am right now, at this point in my life, I’m ridiculously spoiled.

Yet, comfort breeds apathy. A contaminant that grabs hold once the doubt is allowed access. Wondering if the money and security of solid health care is what you’ll rail against when the last of your breath comes to you. I’ve been told that no one wishes they had more money or stuff when they die; the dying lament the lack of time and connection.

The war within causes my psyche to switch sides like a turncoat. One day—hell, one minute—life is good and simple and secure and I’m planning for my future. The next? I’m making plans to save up as much as I can over the next few months, pack the backpack, and drive west until the mountains rise out of the horizon.

Vacillation is a hell of a drug.