When I was younger, I used to think life would just turn out fine. That everything that lay ahead of me was bound to be pure perfection. How foolish I was.
Then in high school, those ambitions started to slowly and unnoticeably fade away, and the feeling of hopelessness that is now part of my everyday life, started to fill in and spread, like a disease.
By the time I was in college, I thought, ‘well, I may not be studying at the university I wished for, but I think I have a chance at life.’ I studied Gastronomy by the way. Soon it was, before I had graduated with my diploma on one hand and my hopes, dreams and doubts on the other.
Soon I got to have my first encounter with the real world. It did not go well. I started working for a local restaurant; an Argentine restaurant whose owner was a chubby woman with the attitude of an angry truck driver. Nothing was good enough for her. However, the worst was probably the head chef. I simply could not make my mind as to whom I hated the most.
Three days later, I left my uniform in an empty locker, and was on my way. Never had I felt such a relief, such a joy. I was exhilarated. After that failed attempt to embrace the work field —the working class, I decided it was time for me to go back to school.
I didn’t know what to do, of course, if anything, my life has always been characterised by an unnerving inability to make decisions —to make up my mind.
Making the right decision has always been a struggle for me. But not only can I not make the right decision, the worst comes when I have to think of something with no previous clue or ground to start with.
I remember all those bullshit vocational tests I took during my last days of high school, they always told me I was good with language and that I would make a good lawyer, economist, teacher or some of the sort.
So I decided to try International Trade. It sounded fancy, and I got to study it at the same university —a private one— I had studied high-school. When I got there, I got a discount —a pretty good deal for my tuition. I started happily, and feeling a bit more confident that I would then have more options in life. Two weeks later, came another disappointment. My mother informed me it was impossible for her to continue to pay for my tuition. You see, ever since my parents got divorced, my mother and I have always struggled with money. When it comes to money —a delicate matter in my family—, I fall silent. I hate our money problems. My father decided he was no longer obligated to support me financially after I turned eighteen. Legally yes, of course, but I was going to college for god’s sake! What kind of parent does that? I always wondered. Of course things between my father and I soon fell apart —It did not go well—, and as a result we did not spoke to each other for sixteen years.
My mother for some reason has always had faith in me, so she soon encouraged me to teach English in a language school —English for foreign learners. I could do that, of course, but I simply disregarded such idea for I thought I would need credentials for that, credentials I did not have whatsoever. In the end, I tried it not expecting to have good results, as always, not trusting myself enough.
I did get the job, and I began to work at a local small language school. The payment was minute, but for the first time I was doing something real —or at least it looked like a real job—, I was teaching.
A year passed, and I continued teaching though I hadn’t given up on the idea of going back to college. As I did not have the money for a private university, I decided I would enrol in the public state university. I picked Economics. I guess because it was the field of study that appealed the most to me. It sounded fancy, and I remember I always liked talking about economy matters and money. I kept working as an English teacher and soon got a job at the same university where I had studied Gastronomy, thanks to some good relations I had there.
Nearly five years went by, and I continued to work as a professor until my dad came around and asked my mother and me for forgiveness —for everything he had done to us.
Yet, for some time now, I’ve thought of myself as a failure, though I know and feel I’m better than a lot of people, people who do better. That’s the sort of thing you would not tell your family or your friends. It sounds horrible. But that is exactly what it feels like.
What is it that makes life so incredibly mysterious? That feeling of nostalgia, that seems to hurt within, that longing for something we simply do not know what it is, that constant idea that we are missing something, but we simply don’t get to figure out; that huge void inside us. The idea that life is a constant process of loss…
Probably love is the only thing that gives some meaning to the void of existence. Have I been in love? Yes. Have I loved —truly loved? No. At least no others than my family and friends, for that matter, of course. But you know what I mean. Surprising would it sound to anyone, to know I have not ever had a single girlfriend. But don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated girls, yes; but nothing serious. I’ve been in love, yes, but never reciprocated. Unrequited love is probably the field where I have the most experience in. That is why I cannot say I have loved, really.
The concept of love has always seemed baffling to me. It’s been a mystery for me ever since I can remember, or ever since I first came into contact with it. What is love anyway? Yet, it is the one thing I crave to write about, and feel unable to, for I feel I have no idea what it is, or at least, I still don’t fully understand it.
Pablo Neruda, the Chilean writer wrote: ‘If nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life.’ and from what I’ve come to know about love, this is perhaps what makes the most sense to me.
But perhaps my problem lies in a latent inability to overcome some insecurities of mine. That inability I have to commit myself to anyone is nothing but fear —pure fear. Fear of the unknown perhaps? I don’t know, yet I’ve always felt a little twinge in my belly whenever the idea of caring too much for someone comes to my mind, as to protecting me from love itself. I have thought about it. But if I am really honest with myself I would come to the conclusion that, throughout all my years of existence, my contact with love and relationships has been negative, disastrous and sickening. Wherever I looked around me, love was always pain and doom.
My mother, for example, always had really bad experiences with love and relationships. Everything ended badly in her life, at least ever since my father. As a result, she has confined herself to a solitary life. That is the sort of reference I have about love, and everywhere I look, it almost always seems to be the same. Nevertheless, I’m not so foolish as to think love is only pain and suffering. Of course problems lie with the way people deal with them. I know that. I am certain love will turn out just fine once I work on my outlook on life —and love itself.
After all this time I continue to struggle through the path of life, trying to make the most of it, still trying to understand it. Carl Sandburg said: ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.’ Gandhi said: ‘Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.’ That is exactly how I feel… trying not to lose hope —not to give up on life.