As I stepped outside this evening to take my dog for a walk, the smell of wood smoke drifted through my neighbourhood, filling my lungs with a familiar warmth generally reserved for late autumn and winter outings. Inside my house, a fire roared in the fireplace, lively and bright; earlier in the day, my mom and I had huddled around it, desperately trying to distance ourselves from the bleak weather outside. For the past few days, the sky has been nothing but a solid sheet of grey and white, stubbornly blocking any bit of sunlight that may be trying to break through. The temperature has remained fairly consistent, perpetually fluctuating between 55 and 60 degrees.
It’s also the middle of July.
Where on earth is the sun?
There’s so much I have to get done in the next month, so many things
that I wanted to accomplish this summer. I’ve had countless “To-Do”
lists etched into my brain and written in my journal since the day my
college classes ended in early May.
I need to make a definitive decision about which colleges I’m going to apply to in the fall.
I need to write down all of the application requirements for said colleges.
I was going to get a head-start on writing my Personal Statement for CommonApp.
I was going to study for the SAT.
I was going to finish my online ASL classes.
I was going to write in my blog more, exercise every day, make some quality YouTube covers, and get a job.
And then this weather happened; the unrelenting grey, everywhere grey
and white and mist, these days where nine O’clock in the morning just
lingers on and on and on, making my eyelids droop, killing my
motivation, making it seem like I’m driving into some impending doom
every time I leave the house. It’s put me in a slump. It’s dragged me
into an intense and inescapable boredom, but not the type of boredom
that drives you to find something to do, like measure every doorway in
the house or count the number of tiles on the bathroom floor, or conduct
experiments with the ants that live in the kitchen cupboards. It’s the
type of boredom that sinks so deep into your bones that all you can
bring yourself to do is sit and stare out the window, listening to each
second on the clock tick by, wishing that this day would just end for god’s sake so that the next one might be better.
So today, my mom and I attempted to find our way out of this slump by
going to the mall to peruse the scented wallflowers at Bath & Body
Works and perhaps purchase some nice-smelling items. The mall in our
area is, of course, equally as, if not more, dismal than the atmosphere
outside, but whatever - it was something to do.
After about twenty minutes of sniffing candles, testing lotions, and
getting trapped into an awkward conversation with a saleslady who had
made individual names for every single animal-shaped air freshener
container on display, my mom and I found ourselves wandering aimlessly
around the mall, wondering where to go next. We walked almost the entire
length of the mall, on the verge of deciding to just turn around and go
There it was. The entrance to Walmart, in all its mediocre glory. Should we go in? we silently asked each other. Do we dare? I’d never really been to a Walmart before, at least I didn’t think I had, and I’m all for new experiences, so we went in.
“Now, we’re going into a Walmart that’s much smaller than what you’re used to, honey, so don’t get all upset.”
I turned my head around and saw a woman holding hands with a young girl entering the store behind me. Good god, I thought to myself, how big does a freaking Walmart have to be for a six-year-old to be satisfied?
It wasn’t very crowded inside the store, and soon my mom and I fell
into step behind a creepy-looking guy who was slinking through the
aisles, carrying nothing but a plastic orange ball in each hand. I was
instantly weirded out by this, but what struck me the most as I observed
the inner-workings of Walmart was the vacant, empty look in everyone’s
eyes. When I looked at the people roaming around the store, I didn’t see
ordinary shoppers going about their everyday errands; I saw mindless
drones pushing carts around, their eyes glazed over as if their souls
had been sucked out of them. Couples walked together and talked, their
mouths moving but their faces lacking any other signs of life; a woman
passed us in the Pet Food aisle, taking no notice when she almost
slammed right into my mom; a toddler sat in a stroller unattended,
staring absently off into space as if he had been drugged. I’m not
exaggerating when I say that my experience at Walmart was like something
out of a horror movie or an Orwell novel - and I was genuinely
I’m still frightened, to be perfectly honest.
Prior to waking up this morning and going out, I had pretty much
resigned myself to the fact that I would spend the rest of my summer
doing absolutely nothing. As day after dreadful day wore on, I became
more and more content with the idea of just existing for the next year,
listening to the seconds on the clock tick by, waiting until the moment
when I would grow up and my life could finally start. But as I
walked through the aisles of Walmart this afternoon, something finally
snapped inside of me. I realized that I was scared because when I looked
at the people around me, when I looked into their soulless eyes and
expressionless faces, I didn’t just see a distressing representation of
the current state of humanity; I saw a reflection of myself. I thought, Is
this my future? Is this what my life is going to turn out to be? Just
mindlessly going through the motions of life but not feeling anything,
not really living? And I realized that if I continue to spend my life like I have for these past two months, just passing the time waiting for something to happen, that might actually be the case.
So I’m going to stop waiting. I’m going to finish my “To-Do” lists,
no matter how dreary and depressing the weather might be. I’m going to
spend this period of my life, trivial as it may seem to me at the
moment, doing something worthwhile. I’m going to read and write and
learn and feel and love and think and create and try new things.
And regardless of the sensational amount of writing material it may
provide me, I am never stepping foot inside a Walmart ever again.