Chaos in Print

Ever notice that the most life altering things just seem to come out of the blue? You know, things like “You’ve won the lottery!” or “Will you marry me?” or “Honey, my period’s late.” What does the song say? “Worry not about the future. The real worries in you life will be things that come at you at 4:30 on some idle Tuesday afternoon.” Well, one of those things just recently happened to me, and, like most things in my life as of late, it tended to revolve around the-person-Chuck-happens-to-be-dating, L.

It was an idle Saturday evening. I was settling in to watch a 2-hour special of Star Trek: Voyager, when the phone rang. My Dad answered it, as I was engrossed in Star Trek. Much to my shock, it was for me. Shocking because, well, I’m a geek. No one phones me. They all e-mail me. And besides, they all know better than to call in the middle of Star Trek. I asked who it was, and Dad said it was L. Double shocking in that, well, I visited her about a month ago and I had nothing really to say to her until I finished writing the huge column about my visit (which is almost done! I swear! I meant at the end of this week!).

L had a proposal for me. It seems that her roommates have reached that special place in all roommates lives where they just can’t stand each other any more and want to go their separate ways. This means, that come January 1, L will be doing the single-girl-in-the-city routine. This fired some synapses in her brain. While visiting a month ago, I made the usual grumblings about how I hate my job and want to get out on my own again. So, L’s proposal: “Since you want to get out on your own again, why don’t you move to Camrose and be my new roommate?”

First thing that flashed through my mind: I’m not doing this unless I’m going to a job in Camrose. I was leaching off my parents for a year before I got a job, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do that to one of my friends. L said she’d thought of that. In my prior grumblings, I mentioned how my boss had said that I could transfer up to a Superstore in Edmonton. Surely, if I could transfer to an Edmonton Superstore I could transfer to the Extra Foods in Camrose. Now, as I recall, I did grumble that in the past. So, let’s assume for the moment that it is true. It requires confirmation from the boss. When I grumble, I tend to fill in the blanks with my own vivid imagination.

Let us assume that a transfer to Camrose would mean into a job of similar wages. Now, no longer in the comfy confines of my parents’ basement, this would mean that I am now thrown into the real world chaos of paying for food, phone, Internet access, cable TV, and rent. You know, the necessities. (Hey! Cable TV is a necessity. I’ll never go back to an antenna.) This would probably mean slicing into my savings, meaning I could kiss that DVD player good-bye. But, on this plus side, the Camrose Cable Company carries channels that still show Batman Beyond, plus TeleToon and Space: The Imagination Station, two channels I long to watch again. That alone would be worth the cost. And besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned while living in the dorms, it’s how to live on a budget. I could go without that DVD player for a few more years.

And it’s not like this arrangement would be long-term. L made it clear that after Augustana commencement ceremonies in May, she’d be back to her native Vancouver. So, we’re only talking about five months. And, let’s say, I do decide to go back to school in fall 2001 (broadcasting at NAIT, in case you’re wondering where I’m leaning). As I’ve convinced myself with my job bagging groceries, this would be in no way permanent. Who knows? A change of scenery might even do me good. Back to Camrose, a city that I fell in love with. Back to a circle of friends. Back to having a life. It would be worth the cost. But a job…. I know I’m not my job, but I can’t afford to be me if I’m broke.

I told L that I’d have to think this over. She understood. Of course, when I’ve got problems like this, I go to Mom. Mom, in her usual maternal way, was more than supportive. She instantly offered up gifts of furniture, money, and even the car. Great, add car insurance to that list of expenses up there. Although, she did mention that the Stony Plain Liberal Constituency Association would need to find a new treasurer. That also entered my mind. I’ve been a part of my mother’s campaign from day one, and I’d want to see it to the end. But, Mom has also said that I shouldn’t put my life on hold for her. The Liberals will survive.

But the biggest question of all would be L and I. I’ve only had a roommate once in my Augustana career, and about three months into that we did have a fight. But that was different. He was a jock, and I’m a geek. L has just enough geek in her to make her likable. Could we really live together for all those months and not build up a burning hot desire to kill each other? I think we could. And besides, it’s every young man’s fantasy to have a chick roommate. You never know when she’ll invite all her friends over and a pyjama party will break out.

I guess, right now, as we speak, the only thing keeping me from saying yes is the uncertainty over my employment. I will not do this unemployed. And the only thing keeping me from finding out about the possibility of transferring to Camrose is the fact that I’m not working this weekend, meaning I can’t talk to my boss until the week begins. But there is a downside to this. Do I really want to bag groceries in Camrose? I mean, it’s OK doing it in Drayton Valley. Yes, my childhood friends come in, but half of them don’t recognize me, so they can’t laugh and point at the geek who was going to rule them all who now bags their groceries. Doing it in Camrose, the possibility is the professors come in to bag their groceries, and they see this graduate with two degrees bagging their groceries. That…would sting. But nothing worth doing was ever easy, right?

The original question remains, however. It’s the question I’ve had ever since I finished university and came back to my parents’ basement. And that question is where does my life go from here? On the one hand, I’ve got the safety and security of a roof over my head, low expenses, and an ever-continuing job. On the other, I lose the safety and security, but get a chance to regain my life. Yup, the things you worry about are always the ones that come out of the blue. I’m starting to think of my life as some sort of strange adventure. Where does the next chapter lie?

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