He felt like he had been moving back and forth more then he wanted at that time, which Nick thought was strange. He usually loved the road, but these days he was just feeling tired and burned out and desperately wanted somewhere consistent to recuperate and feel better. He was tired and beaten and bruised like a dog, and even though he was going to his hometown, it wasn’t comforting this time, just a reminder that he had graduated college and still didn’t have a job. It reminded him how he spent his parents’ money and was thousands of dollars in debt because of living expenses and expensive summer internships that were supposed to put him “head of the pack”.
He realized that college was just a task. It was something necessary to complete in order to function at the professional level. Not to say it’s necessary to get a college degree in order to function or be a part of society, but rather a necessity for him.
So there he sat, wanting to scream, “I’ve graduated world! I’m ready to conquer you!” Isn’t this what the teachers told us they were preparing everyone for from the first day we all started? Nick felt that all those teachers never really prepared him for this. Never prepared him for disappointment; for consolidation of student loans, for the economic collapse, for the industry he wanted to enter to be completely dying.
But there Nick sat, still having to face the world and all these situations, through no choice of his own. So perhaps, Nick thought, there is a lesson to be learned in this after all. You can try all you want, you can work hard and prepare properly and say your prayers and double knot your shoes and look both ways before you cross the street, but sometimes it just doesn’t fucking matter. Sometimes, you just get hit by an 18-wheeler going 70 miles per hour, regardless. However, instead of being gracious and wiping out an entire generation of jaded cynical self absorbed tweeters it seemed to paralyze everyone into a zombie-like state of post-graduate depression where everyone was wandering around some unoccupied space between hometowns and college towns, ingesting substances and drinking things that gradually numb the pain of getting mauled by an 18-wheeler that was completely out of their control. We all looked both ways, Nick thought, well…some of them did.
Nick blamed it on the 90s, being raised as part of the uber-optimistic Clinton era, the days when kids played sports and at the end of the game “everyone won”…the days that everyone displayed their 5th place ribbons proudly.
And then everyone became teenagers and would turn on the TV and see children getting BMW’s for the 16th birthdays from their parents and a hundred of their “closest” friends, dry humping like rabid farm animals all on the TV network’s dollar, ah yes…now this is what the real world is like! This is what the generation was bred to strive for. These were the rich, the powerful, the Gatsby’s, if you will. This is why, Nick thought, I went to college.
These dark and upsetting thoughts littered Nick’s brain like a car crash you want to turn away from but can’t on the news. He knew he wanted something better, but even in these lowly moments Nick knew he could deal with it. Jackie, however, couldn’t deal with the pressure anymore. He didn’t even know why Jackie’s name crossed his mind at this hour, especially given the status of things between them now, but he couldn’t help but feel moved and empathetic towards her. Reality had been slowly getting harder and harder for them all to deal with, but for Jackie, it was becoming a task difficult to wake up in the morning for. Her family was falling apart and her inability to get a job was all mounting into a rising tide that was becoming harder and harder to swim against. He tried shaking it out of his head, but Jackie stuck.
Nick observed the similarities between their situation, both longing for the same thing, both dealing with personal problems that were mounting to a unfathomable height, however the same post-graduate depression that ate away at Jackie day and night seemed to wash over Nick with a more tranquil, soothing numbness. He was angry and sad, sure, but the booze and drugs did make it go away. It seemed so logical.