What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Post-Semester Stress Disorder

Finishing school is like finishing a war. The guns are silent, the gore is dried, and your bed feels safe at last. Exhalation is natural and a smile is no longer forced. The steel muzzles cool, and the smoke clears. All is quiet on the wide fields of slaughter, and flowers begin again to dot the trench-scarred landscape.

But try as you might, there can be no return to the life that was before. A nerve deep inside your soul has been touched, and your one-innocent heart has been jarred. You thank God for home, for your loving family and familiar routine, but you find that you cannot enjoy them as you once did.

No, something has changed. You can feel it when, having stayed up by habit until two-thirty in the morning, you stare bleary-eyed at random websites as if they were vital research for an overdue paper that you had to finish. You can feel it when, five hours later, you jolt out of bed perspiring as if there were no time to dress before classes began. You can feel it when you wriggle your weightless fingers and unclasp your empty hands as you carpool to work, thinking you ought to have a book with you. You can feel it when you can make evening plans and not worry about homework deadlines or study groups.

The caffeine addiction dies hard. You cannot bear to bid adieu to your morning coffee, nor can you kiss your desert coffee goodbye. Your hands even itch at times to make that midnight cram-session pot. Mountain Dew may be a good place to start cutting back. They don't, after all, have it at In N' Out, and there's no longer any need for an energy boost in that calculus class. Red Bull is, naturally, off limits.

Slowly, the reality sinks in. You don't have to mute your laptop to keep the Tetris music from reaching your professor's ears. You don't have to sit up straight or act respectable; you don't have to zone out. When someone asks you a question, you don't have to scramble into the dark and misty caverns of your memory in search of potent ingredients for a plausible answer-concoction. The only alchemy in your life is in your plans to revive a hibernating relationship.

In time, the harsh regimen of the semester begins to loosen. There is no one to bark out orders, no one to set deadlines, and no one to impress. You can leave your hair ungelled and trip over your shoelaces. You can guzzle coke on the couch in a stuffy room whose murky dimness is pierced only by the flickering light of a television screen. The only blot on your perfect liberty is a faint but recurring recollection of the horrors you conquered.

Buck up, soldier. Don't let the bad memories phase you. Your troubles are in the past, so keep them there. If steel and fire couldn't hurt you, there's no reason to be afraid of ghosts. Relax and take it easy now, because in just a few months, you're scheduled for another tour.

1 comment:

Kelsey Winther said...

lol....that was a perfect description of my life right now