The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

You’re never going to do this again.

Your sink is filled with dirty dishes, your refrigerator is crammed with six different barely-eaten green bean casseroles, and your good booze has all but evaporated.

You’re never going to do this again.

Your ears are ringing from the sound of decades-old family arguments, your nerves are worn thin from fighting traffic, and your head is throbbing because this never gets any easier.

You’re never going to do this again.

You’re going to live in the desert. You’re going to hide under your bed. You’re going to make excuses. Oh, the excuses you will make. “I have suddenly broken my leg.” “I have developed a life-threatening gravy intolerance.” “I have been dead for years, go look at pictures you have taken of me, it turns out I am in none of them, go check, but I won’t be waiting for you on the phone when you get back, due to the fact that I am dead.”

You’re never. NEVER. Going to do this again.

You thought by hosting, you’d have control over the entire day, and everyone would see that when you’re in charge, these things don’t have to be soul-eating disasters. You were wrong. Everyone showed up late. Everyone showed up early. Everyone brought green bean casseroles. Everyone has developed a life-threatening gravy intolerance. Everyone knows they could have done it better. Everyone tells you how they would have done it better.

You thought by not hosting, you could let someone else be in charge, and not have it be a soul-eating disaster. You were wrong. Everyone was fighting right before you got there. Everyone forgot to ask you to bring ten extra chairs. Everyone forgot to tell you it was a vegan meal, and you brought bacon-stuffed sausage string-bean casserole. No one wanted to be there. No one is ever going to do this again.

You’re never going to do this again.

You tell yourself holidays are social constructs. You tell yourself holidays are marketing tools. You tell yourself you are smarter and better than a circled day on the calendar. You tell yourself that you can just go out to the movies, and then get a bowl of spicy noodles, and then go home and stare at your dog.

You picture this magical dream day of a holiday. You walk through it, open-world style. You stroll through your quiet neighborhood, and imagine houses full of miserable people, yelling at each other, burning themselves on things, hiding bits of inedible whatever in their napkins, and trying to convince themselves and each other this is awesome because this is what they’re supposed to do.

But not you, you think to yourself as you glide down the sidewalks of your quiet neighborhood. Are your feet even touching the ground? You look down, and they are not. You look down and the ground is miles beneath you. You look down and you see your quiet neighborhood, and then your quiet city, and then your quiet country, and then a pale blue rock.

Hopefully you remembered to get your spicy noodles before you transcended all known laws of physics and ended up in the inky void of space.

There are no un-winnable arguments in space. No traffic. No need for ten extra chairs. Just you, and some debris, and some stars and planets and whatever.

You revel in the silence. This is what you wanted. This is everything you ever wanted.

This, and a brown-and-serve dinner roll.

That would make this perfect. Just you, the inky black void of space, a brown-and-serve dinner roll, and maybe some butter. Or margarine, you’re not picky.

A bit of gravy to dip it in would be nice, too. And you can’t really have rolls, butter, and gravy for dinner. You can, you TOTALLY can, YOU FLEW INTO SPACE AND LIVED, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER, but you might as well make something on which to put that gravy. Maybe it’s turkey. Maybe it isn’t. Gravy can go on a lot of things.

When you get back to earth, you tell yourself, you will get some brown-and-serve dinner rolls, and some margarine. And some gravy. And some stuff to put it on. And that sounds like a lot of food. You’ll ring some friends and tell them to come over, and you can all put gravy on things. You all enjoy putting gravy on things, it’s one of the cornerstones of your friendship. Your family likes putting gravy on things, too. Better ring them as well.

BUT, you tell yourself, you can do that any day of the week! Any time of the year! You don’t need a special, magic day for a Friends and Family-Inclusive Gravy Meal-Party. You don’t need a special, magic day for ANYTHING. YOU ARE ABOVE IT ALL, AFTER ALL, YOU ARE IN THE GODDAMN INKY VOID OF SPACE.

Although everyone’s so busy.

Everyone’s so busy. Everyone’s getting older, everyone has more responsibilities. Everyone has jobs, kids, obligations, lives. Everyone’s getting further away from everyone else every day. Sure, you look at your phone, you look at your laptop and everyone’s right there. But you can’t hug your laptop. You can’t high-five your phone. You can, but there could be something better.

There could be a few hours every year where you all agree to stop the clock, and pile into one house, around one table that doesn’t have enough chairs. And it is going to be a pain in the ass, boy howdy. It is a genuine, bona fide pain in the ass to make a bunch of people get together and do anything, no matter how much they love you, each other, and gravy.

But for that few hours every year, everyone’s going to give it a shot.

Everyone’s going to give it a shot, because everyone’s getting older. Everyone’s getting further away from everyone else every day. Everyone is running out of days, everyone is running out of years, everyone is running.

You need to stop running. You need to stop and sit with your friends and loved ones. You are lucky to have them. You are lucky to have everything you have.

You are thankful.

You are on Earth. You are in your country, in your city, in your neighborhood, and you are thankful.

You are thankful, and because you are thankful, you’re going to do this again.

Then you remember Christmas is a month away, and you wonder if you have enough miles to get you back to the inky void of space.