Highlights: The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories, by Marina Keegan
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This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse, I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out—that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement. When we came to Yale, there
We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it: already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you
What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating from college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
We were in the stage where we couldn’t make serious eye contact for fear of implying we were too invested. We used euphemisms like “I miss you” and “I like you” and smiled every time our noses got too close.
A lot of time was spent being consciously romantic: making sushi, walking places, waiting too long before responding to
But it became clear very quickly that I’d underestimated how much I liked him. Not him, perhaps, but the fact that I had someone on the other end of an invisible line. Someone to update and get updates from, to inform of a comic discovery, to imagine while dancing in a lonely basement, and to return to, finally, when the music stopped. Brian’s death was the clearest and most horrifying example of my terrific obsession with the unattainable. Alive, his biggest flaw was most likely that he liked me. Dead, his perfections were clearer.
She had the rare combination of being quiet and popular, a code that made her intimidating to younger, fashionable girls and mysterious to older, confident boys. We moved in different circles and I hardly thought about her again until the morning after I first kissed Brian, whom she had dated intensely and inseparably for two years and nine months.
Perhaps it’s not a problem so much as a crutch, but I have this pathetic fantasy that I’d be more productive if I were less attractive. Finally finish some paintings or apply for funding of some kind. The point is that Lauren Cleaver and I were not friends because Lauren Cleaver and I had all this in common. This, and Brian.
I went to an arts conference in Manhattan last spring and everyone was scrambling to meet everyone, asserting their individuality like sad salesmen. This is my idea, I would say, this is my thing. We stood in cocktail circles and exchanged earnest interest. Hoo, hoo! Open spaces! Ohh yes! The avant garde! I didn’t have a business card. It didn’t even occur to me. It might have been funny or endearing but I ended up just being embarrassed. I don’t have one, I’d say again and again. (Ha Ha!) Then I’d sit down for another panel to take notes and nod. There were so many people there. There are just so many people. The thing is, someday the sun
presumptuous! To assume specialness in the first place. As I age, I can see the possibilities fade from the fourth-grade displays: it’s too late to be a doctor, to star in a movie, to run for president. There’s a really good chance I’ll never do anything. It’s selfish and self-centered to consider, but it scares