On Tuesday I wake up at 7:30 am. I take a shower, pack my gym bag, do my hair and meet Mark in the living room. We leave for the shuttle stop at 8:00 am and arrive at 8:15 in time for the shuttle. On the shuttle I listen to an episode of my favorite podcast or to music. The bus arrives in Mountain View at 9:50 am. I walk to my building, eat a banana and some cereal with milk in the kitchen, and make a latte for practice, fun, and consumption. I bring it to my desk, log in at 10:05 and check my email. Then I do some work until 12:30 pm, when Robert, my favorite co-worker, pokes his head through the door to my shared office with a smile and says “Lunch?” One by one we gather up the rest of the team, “lunch?” and slowly make our way out the door. Outside the building we stand in a directionless clump for 20 seconds until someone says “Charlie’s?” and then I smile and we all walk to Charlie’s. We get in different lines and regroup in the cafeteria. I eat my food and laugh at Robert’s jokes. I try to make jokes too because I want to be friends with my team. After everyone finishes eating we all look at each other and my manager, John, stands up. When he stands up we all stand up. Then we file out of the cafeteria and drop off our trays at the dishwashing pickup. Half of us split off to get dessert. I split off to grab a bottle of water. I take it back to my desk and adjust the height so I can stand for the next hour or so.
By 4 pm I’m trying to avoid doing work. I ask Amit a question about the best way to handle a bug or what an email means. I don’t like to waste his time but he’s very good at answering things and I have so many questions. At 5 pm my manager leaves, seemingly having not noticed my intermittent goofing off for the last hour or so, and whatever pressure there was for me to do work goes away completely. I browse the internet, read my book, and walk around outside, snacking. Around 6:00 I grab my gym bag, text Mark, and head to the fitness center. Mark will be there in a bit. I change into running clothes, wait 5 minutes for a treadmill to open up and then run for an hour. I try to push myself to beat my best time, simultaneously trying to occupy my thoughts so that this passes quicker. Do I even like running? Who knows. I stretch and shower, then I head to dinner with Mark. The sky is dark now. We eat together in the lounge while watching an episode of Atlanta on my laptop. Then we catch the next shuttle back to San Francisco. I stare out of the window on the ride back. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and it’s big in a way that doesn’t make me feel small, but like I’m on an adventure. When we get back to the apartment it is 9 pm.
It’s good. Things are relaxed and productive. I do the same thing every day. I don’t have energy to do anything else. But I can do whatever I want, I say to myself. This is my choice, but I don’t remember ever making the choice to work all day for five days a week. I don’t remember choosing programming over music. I don’t remember choosing to leave behind my old life. This is the life I lead, but it feels like the life I never had the courage to opt out of.
I think about my friends. I think about writing songs with Johnny, rehearsing with the G-Men and Kopi, getting coffee with Charlotte, and lazing around with Lawrence. I think about my road trip with Kevin, going on tour, and acapella parties. I think about solving math puzzles with Deepak, playing DnD, and jamming with Brian or Emma. I think about the summer on the docks with Noah and Jeremiah. I think about doing nothing all afternoon in my tiny twin bed with Nicole. Losing all this forever makes me want to cry, but I don’t want to be the type of person who gets wrapped up in the past. In a few months the holiday lights that I always loved will once again light up State Street. Midterms will start and G-Men and Kopi will start their new rep. Someone else will move into my old apartment. Ann Arbor keeps working without me.
I moved to a city without close friends. I have nobody to be silly with, which is something I never knew I needed until I lost it.
But even though I’m afraid that my job is not for me, and I’m afraid that the next year will pass by so fast that I’ll miss it, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make close friends, my quality of life is not lost on me. Even though I miss my old friends and I miss my old life and my old home, my new opportunities are not lost on me.
Tonight is like Christmas. The apartment is warm and cozy, and this warmth is accentuated by the rainy cold outside. Everyone is home and the apartment is lively with conversation and laughter. Orchestral music plays through the living room stereo system, and I turn down the volume so we can hear the TV show playing on my laptop. Rohan, Mark, and I sit on the couch in the living room, all squished next to each other between pillows. Sijia has made the entire house smell like French short ribs with her witchcraft-cooking. I don’t eat any but the smell alone is amazing. Outside the window, scattered lights shine through the occasional neighboring apartment, dimly lighting up sections of their buildings. And all I can think is one day these will be the good old days.