And then I dropped out. After all of that- the tears, the all-nighters, the highs, the lows- I finally made it, and then I left. Even writing about it now, knowing that it all works out in the end, squeezes my heart like nothing else. It’s funny how life is: unpredictable despite your planning and painful despite your hope.
I wish I could tell you something happened, something spicy and forbidden. Maybe I’d had a secret rendezvous with my English Professor; a hot, passionate night while her husband was away on business. Maybe she caught my eye across the lecture hall or maybe I answered her question. Maybe I’d gone to office hours after class. I probably needed clarification on a reading- a small flex that I read the supplementals. Maybe she invited me over to dinner at her place to discuss it more- she said her husband was away and she needed someone to keep her company for a while. Maybe she made salmon, a simple dish but she made it so delicately- something with dill and lemon- that to me might as well have been Eve’s apple. Maybe we drank wine and talked and at one point we moved to the drawing room. Maybe we sat next to each other. Maybe I made her laugh, and maybe she put her hand on my knee while she threw her head back. Maybe when the tension was so thick it was choking us, she took me right there on the loveseat, leaving me ruined for anyone else. Maybe it hurt so bad seeing her everyday after, knowing what we shared was special- but her husband was back, and we couldn’t risk administration finding out. Maybe I’d had to leave school and fly home, nursing my broken heart along the way.
Of course, that didn’t happen. All my professors were middle aged men obsessed with Nietzsche and Keats. I didn’t even eat Salmon at that point, thinking I’d try my hand at being vegetarian. I wasn’t driven out, nothing drastic happened. No, I left of my own volition. I was simply a twenty-one-year-old girl who couldn’t keep up with the life she created for herself.
Instead, I found out rather quickly that aesthetic can only get you so far. I had all the right books, the right interests; I started learning cello and Latin. I spent my days doing homework and writing letters to my friends. I hung out with the avant-garde loving music snobs who rejected anything that was moderately mainstream. It was my dream, the one I’d been working towards my entire high school career. It was me and my Doc Martens against the world.
Then, one fall morning, I slept in. I remember it being dreary and warm, the kind of whether that doesn’t even feel nice- just a sky without sun and air without wind. I wish I could tell you what was so different about this October morning, but I can’t. And when it was time to go to class the next day, I pretended I didn’t hear my alarm. The next, I didn’t set an alarm to begin with. It was a week of me in bed, ignoring everything on my phone or computer that wasn’t Instagram or Netflix. My friends texted, my professors emailed, my boss called. I didn’t answer. This went on for 6 days.
I know what you’re thinking- Trinity, that’s just depression, all the kids are depressed these days- and you know what? You’re right. With my history you’d think I’d be able to pick up on the details, it’s been around longer than my father has (ha), but dear reader, I can’t say anything this time except that it was different.
My depression has always been a quiet breeze. Some days, not noticeable at all; others, a hurricane. Mostly, it’s just been light leaves rustling with the occasional tipped garbage can. This time though, it was like a predator. I’d been happily trudging along with the path I’d created, staring at the beautiful flowers and ageless trees, when it pounced on me from behind. It must have been tracking me for a while, because I couldn’t hear any crickets chirp while it ripped out my throat and licked my bones clean.
What used to be casual drinking-while-reading had turned into a glass of wine to start the day. I spent more of my paycheck on cheap reds than I did on rent. I had dabbled in smoking with the art kids, but now it had me chain-smoking on the balcony while my housemates slept. I stopped going to class. I stopped handing in assignments. I lied to my professors about what was going on and when that well dried, I started telling them the truth. I feel worst about that- how unprofessional I’d been near the end.
It all came to head in March of my second year. I enrolled for spring classes as a Hail Mary, praying I’d find my love for History and beauty of English. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. Instead, the semester was spent half-in-bed half-high-out-of-my-mind. Classes were online at this point, which only tripled my ambition's resolve to stay dormant. I was lucky if I’d even turned on my computer during the day, let alone open my Zoom account. I was dwindling, I was rotting. I woke up on March 13th, 2021, and thought ‘if nothing happens by Friday, I’m going to kill myself’.
Now, this line of thinking wasn’t new for me. You know, I know, everyone knows that I’ve been thinking about death since childhood- contemplating it since not much later. But I cannot stress to you enough how much this time was different. It was like knowing what song was going to come on the radio next, and then it happening. Like smelling the air and feeling the rain before it fell. It was inevitable, it just so happened that I was lucky enough to know before hand.
Of course, it’s different now, and looking back I wish I could go knock on my bedroom door, crawl into bed, and hug myself until neither of us could breathe. I think most of my problems could have been solved with some physical contact and intensive therapy. But instead, I was going to die, and the only people who knew were a child that’s long since gone and myself.
I know you might be looking for more detail on what was going on, and I wish I could give it to you, but even I don't know. I worked towards my goals, did everything right. My parents were happy and things were beautiful. Then one day, out of nowhere, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was hundreds of miles away from home, I hated my major and my body, I hated the cockroaches in my apartment. Every night I went to bed praying to my childhood self in apology. I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough to do what you wanted. I’m sorry it’s not what we thought it was. I’m sorry I can’t keep going. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Looking back on it, I think I hit peak aestheticism. I was just like every philosopher I’d read, every writer I envied. I was the living embodiment of Woolf, Plath, Dazai. I suppose it’s my fault for choosing to live the same way they did, to value the same things they chose. There was no other option for me but to question my existence and think about the unfairness of the universe. Life is suffering and all that.
I spent my last week going to the park and watching the birds. I’d spend hours under the trees and see the leaves dance. I took a lot of pictures. I don’t know who I thought would see them, I was the only one who could get into my phone. I knew my sister could probably get my passcode eventually, but by then I guess it wouldn’t matter. Maybe I hoped someone would see what I saw. Maybe I hoped they’d see I tried a little near the end, too.
I ended up in a couple lectures as well. How was I allowed back in you ask? Well first, university professors couldn’t care less whether you’ve attended or not. Second, it had all been online anyways. I guess it was my futile attempt to get someone to notice me. I could pretend that the people in lecture had seen I was gone and missed me, maybe email after to see if everything was alright. I would say yes, and they’d ask to get coffee to catch up. I could pretend it was a movie or book or song again and I would stop wanting to disappear. It didn’t happen, and when class ended, I was back staring at a black screen. I hated what I saw, dark under-eyes and all.
So, I spent my last week watching birds and taking notes that no one would read. Honestly, it was a real downer. I spent my last day on the balcony. I smoked the last of my cigarettes and listened to the traffic. It wasn’t a glamorous ending shot, but I had exhausted all my other activities, and I still had half a pack left. The sun moved slowly across the sky, and I watched. I watched the birds wake up and fall back asleep again. I watched the clouds move and counted the planes that passed. I figured I might as well see everything before I can’t see anything- or saw everything from above if my catholic grandmother was right.
In that moment, watching the stars, smoke escaping my chapped lips, I truly understood my human insignificance for the first time. And when you’re faced with that, like really faced with it, it’s like everything stops making sense. Feelings, goals, relationships, they all mean nothing in the face of our cosmic timeline. Why should it matter if I die when humanity has been around for a grain on sand amount of time? Why should it matter if my parents are upset when they'll be dead in a decade anyways? Why did anything matter?
I sat outside for a long time. I wish I could say I thought about things that made me hesitant to do it, but truthfully, I didn’t think about anything. My main wondering was how much drowning was going to hurt, and how cold the water would be; but even that was separate from myself. It was like my brain was going through the motions of thinking without retaining anything. My life was separate from my body was separate from my mind. The thought of calling my mom was so fleeting I didn’t give it a second glance. I wish I had. I wish I had told someone how bad it had gotten. I still do.
There’s nothing else to say except that I went to bed on Thursday night and was going to die. I brushed my teeth for the last time, I washed my face despite the insignificance, I prayed. I prayed I wouldn’t wake up- mostly to save myself the pain. Even in my last moments I didn’t want to live with the decisions I’d made. I was still a coward, even in the face of death.
But instead of dying, the next morning I woke up to a text from my cousin- ‘me and frank broke up. come home’.
I thought about myself in high school, my GPA. I thought about my missed assignments and the wine bottles in my recycling bin. I thought about the cockroaches. I thought about how cold the water would be.
The decision was easy. That afternoon, I was on a plane going home.