I’ve been indulging in some major self-pity lately. The problem with having a concrete goal is that you might fail to achieve it, and that’s a terrifying concept when you’re used to making the world do what you want it to. So instead I’ve been avoiding thinking about it, which turns it into the elephant in the room and elephants take up a lot of space and can accidentally crush your foot if you’re not careful.
I’ve been letting myself daydream. I think about the jobs I could get or the PhD proposals I could write or the mystery man that might see me and fall in love and ask me to marry him on the spot. I daydream of a job – not *a* job, but THE job. The job that combines everything I’ve done and everything I’m passionate about and wraps them up in a knot. I dream of it so often I can taste it. The job tastes like vanilla, like the tiny trace of a smell deposited on your tongue when you walk into an old bookshop. It tastes like the last drip of ice cream on a warm day when you have to rush to catch it and you shove the rest of the polystyrene-tasting cone in your mouth because there is no real point in eating the cone without the ice cream, is there?
I’ve been having nightmares lately. I wake up crying, panicked, barely able to breathe. What am I scared of? Leaving Edinburgh. Each morning when I wake up, chest heavy with the fear my subconscious is holding onto, I remind myself that I’m still here.
Still here. I’m still here.
These things are connected, I know it. I know that the fear and the longing and the job and the anxiety and the love – they’re all part of some big thing I have to do.
And the truth is, I know what I’m here to do. I’m here for books, I’m here for stories, I’m here to bring them into the world and give them to people. Not wrapped up like Christmas gifts, patiently waiting for bows to be unwrapped and paper to be torn. No. That’s not what books are. Books are the medicine you get in A&E when you’re so full of pain and fear nothing but the steady drip of relief the IV brings you will let you sleep. Books are vital. They are my love and my world.
And of course there’s that hope in me, buried somewhere down deep, that this city that I love might love me back. That it might want me as much as I want it, that it might see that what we have is special and undeniable and impossible to imitate. That this place that values books and words and the art of a good story might see that our hearts speak the same language and it might wrap its arms around me and whisper in my ear.
“Don’t let go,” I want it to say. “I won’t.”