I wonder many things in this moment, like why I am sitting in this graying classroom, instead of running far, far away. I try to imagine where I might go. English 482 has given me nothing but absolute confusion, and for this I am thankful, but I am distracted. Where is the farthest? The Andes seem enclosed and selfless, enough to stifle my perpetual anxiety. I imagine my screams bouncing off peaks, my laugh ricocheting off boulders and back into my lungs. My legs move fast and are scraped by copper rock that I jump over. My mind stays silent while I move.
Suffocating, I sit quietly. The room smells oddly of both vanilla and rats, perhaps both scents flowing from the skin of the girl in front of me. No doubt, the mixture resides in her house like a bad boyfriend, a combination of thief and lover. Kingston homes, I find, are notorious for their smells. Over four years, the particles swimming through the air are bound to penetrate the insides of residents. The professor asks a question, waits the uncomfortable six seconds before posing it in words we understand. I regress. Something about the man who wrote the poem I was told to read for today. His name may be Wallace Stevens.
Instead of reminding myself about inevitable failure due to my wandering, I think about what is next. I have drunk the waters of this proverbial education; yet, amidst this knowledge, I am wonderfully blank. Class is almost over, and I count minutes down to the wire now, as though running will never fulfill my desires. The process begins again; Jamaica, L.A., Venice. Italian lovers seem palpable and Watson Hall just doesn’t give me the same itch. Is Watson Hall the dark side of the moon? Is it always this black?
No ring, but we jump anyway. I pack my computer away and prepare myself for sunlight. My feet move swiftly as I walk outside onto University Avenue. I see puddles, the good kind. Spring must be coming, despite Asian Nuclear Testing.
Students seem submerged in minutes, walking to and fro. Into Ontario Hall, out of Kingston and then BioSci for a double-double. Sit down, open computer, scowl at facebook, close screen, walk again. This melancholy feeling is only perpetuated by my endless dread, because I’m almost jealous of their sincerity.
I begin to imagine where Rat Girl might be in ten years. The freedom of the ‘afterlife’, her afterlife, as I call it, comes with a price, and I am terrified. Twelve years of overly scheduled physical movements followed by four years of reckless intellectuality and only half the schedule, results in mere chaos. My heart beats very quickly as I stand still on the sidewalk in front of Watson Hall. Perhaps this is what the afterlife is like. Bodies move everywhere, but somehow I am fixed into position.
I sit looking a bit rugged on the paved ledge outside my next class. This is perhaps the only moment I feel safe, unmoving. I can sit here for days, watching the success stride by, and know that I may be their patient one day. Who will represent our generation then, artist or programmer? I wonder if they are any different, as though hotmail coding resembles a sort of acrylic hand movement. A “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pin sits below my feet, crushed against asphalt. I pick it up, turning it between my fingers like a time warp. Four years have gone by and only now am I contorted with jealousy. Why must I leave and start anew? I refuse to wade through my past mistakes; yet, my perpetual childish ignorance doesn’t allow me to apologize. The afterlife lends me no hope, but in this moment I realize there is no such thing as ‘try’, there is only ‘do’. Perhaps Rat Girl’s meta-escapade on post-modernism subconsciously rewired my brain to believe in action.
Post-modernism is defined by creating the new within ongoing questions of the self, be it through new modes and forms of writing and reading. House of Leaves represents the afterlife, twisted and turned, a branch in a thunderstorm. The branch remains fixed, but its lifeblood, leaves, have fallen away and now it is naked.
Reflecting in this moment, perhaps I have underestimated myself.
Queen’s has taught me enough to know I will never be forgiven for my beliefs and values. Everything is so politically enhanced it literally hurts to think. At twenty-one, my life has been consolidated into a package of words; resume, cover letter, samples. I become defined by a grand education because this is institution and “we will have enough of your attitude” costumes me as a child.
Watson Hall will never equate to Goodes, and the ARC doesn’t necessarily resemble Queen’s in its historical way. This is the temporal traditional line, where movement and capability meet action or inaction. We must move forward; yet, remind ourselves that historical beauty is fixed, and the desire to rid the past and escape into newness is pointless. I am not destined to be thing one or thing two, nor am I deemed incapable because I choose to analyze Wallace Stevens. It is the process of analyses that allows for absolute doubt in the afterlife, but perhaps also strengthens my imagination.
It is in this moment that I begin to believe in myself again, believe in the process of the afterlife. I reflect on my ripped band t-shirt and scratched sunglasses, because maybe it is me that is causing the blackness. Although I need to run, I can always run back. I dwell for a few more seconds. I wonder where I might go.
Then, the mayflies remind me how much I hate campus in spring, so I move my sunglasses to the bridge of my nose and I search “New York City Flights”. I book a ticket to The City That Never Sleeps, the city with no mayflies, and remember never to come back again.
Amy Gnesin, Co-Editor-in-Chief