"Sure," I said, took my earbuds out, and made a mental note to get off at the next stop and wait for another train to come.
"Do you remember where you were a year ago?"
"It's different from where you are now, right?" he asked.
Again, I nodded.
"Are you in a better place right now?"
This time, I paused. This time, one year ago...where was I?
|Fireworks along the waterfront in Portland (July 4, 2011).|
I fell asleep and woke up more times than I can accurately remember, and when we finally reached Eugene at 4 a.m., all I could think about was how badly I didn't want to be in that car anymore. Twelve hours later, we'd be in Portland pouring forties into soda cups, and the morning after that, I'd be receiving my first post-graduate internship offer--one that would send me across the country to Maryland.
|Multiple forks at the corner of Pioneer Square in Portland.|
So where was I now? In a city that still felt foreign in so many ways, in a city where I still felt like a drifter between communities and people. I've been told I'm considered successful--but Lord, it sure doesn't feel that way. If success means struggling to hold onto your voice, dying for one moment of simple pleasure, losing someone you held so dear... How do you measure success when you're surrounded daily by the promise of what you can become? I've grown up in the last year, I think, but there's still something missing that begs introspection.
I answered the man on the subway with an honesty that surprised me. "I hope so," I said. "I think so."
As the train came to a stop, the man stood up and said, "Life is always getting better. Remember that. You have a purpose: to live. So live."
When the subway doors closed, I looked around to see if anyone else caught that. The other passengers had their earphones in, were deep in conversations with one another, or immersed in their iPads and Blackberries. I unplugged my own earphones and sat back, and when I reached my stop, I'd like to think I exited with purpose.