I started university on September 6th, 2006. I was an awkward, rumpled, mousy little thing who couldn't look anyone in the eye. I was pursuing an English degree without having any idea as to what I would do with it- I just knew I loved books and wanted to read as many of them as possible. Thinking about career opportunities and life after graduation seemed a bit pointless. I wasn't sure if I'd make it to grad. I wasn't even sure if I'd make it past my first year. This is because when I started university I was miserable, unmedicated, friendless, cripplingly shy, and an all-around sad panda who didn't like hirself very much. It seemed as though I had nothing to look forward to, up to and including getting my degree.
I graduated on May 24th, 2011. I expected to have a lot of Big Feelings on my way across the stage, but mostly I felt a little nervous (and a lot embarrassed for having buttoned up my cardigan wrong). Most of my Big Feelings are happening now, days after the fact. And my Big Feelings are mostly that I'm fucking rad.
I am twenty-two years old. I have a degree and kept an A average throughout all five years of my program. I've written five novels. I am planning on going to grad school. I'm medicated. I made it out of university without getting into debt. I have fantastic friends and a beautiful, funny fiancee, as well as a pet mouse and a bunny and, as of this afternoon, a cat (!!!). I'm smart, I'm cute, I make people laugh, I can cook and play chess and recite "Jabberwocky" even when I'm blitzed out of my skull. (Especially then.) I'm pretty fucking awesome, all things considered. And as much as B.A.s are useless in the "real world"- which is a place I've never been and never plan to go- I feel like when I'm having a bad day and I forget all the things that make me awesome I'll be able to look at that degree and remember, oh yeah, I did that.
And that's pretty great.
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
- "Antilamentation," Dorianne Laux