A Very Whatever Year

Jason Leung

I really love telling stories, but I have a lot of trouble getting people to believe me sometimes. Like, one time, in a park in London, I saw a guy punch a pigeon in the face. It is maybe one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed (I can’t retell this story IRL without howling to myself) and I was completely stunned — because this guy, seriously, punched a pigeon in the face. The pigeon was fine. It sort of spiraled to the ground and then flew away. The guy didn’t blink. I have no idea how he so perfectly nailed a bird in the face. Does he do this often?

C is the only friend who believes me — mostly because she was with me when I saw it happened, although she was looking the other way. I had leaned over to her and she saw how big my eyes were and how I kept my voice at a low volume so the Pigeon Puncher wouldn’t overhear me. And, she says, when I tell ridiculous stories I am usually shouting.

I’ve been told that I am an Extreme Person. Everything, to me, is either Amazing! or The Worst Thing To Have Happened. I am never lukewarm, I am never using my “inside voice,” I have been shushed in public before — an old man in Paris once made eye contact with me while I was laughing (I have a terrible laugh) and put a finger to his lips and then crossed to the opposite side of the street to physically get away from me — I also hide inside my own head, I will quietly take things too personally, I will go to bed at 7:36PM when I can’t think about things anymore. Always extremes.

H and I used to do this thing where we’d rank years in our lives. I loved 2005. I hated 2015. And 2007. And 2010. I felt really happy in 2014. We tried to find any overlap in the years we liked and the years we hated, as if that meant, universally, it was a Good Year or Bad Year for everyone. Always extremes.

This was the Year Of Whatever. I went into it thinking it was going to be a big turning point for me, which might’ve been a mistake. I have no idea why I do that — why I decide, on my own, that circumstances outside of my control are going to change, just because it’s January 1st.

At the time, I had been with people I truly loved and in a city I had convinced myself that maybe I could move to. I looked at jobs there. I thought about the people I could latch onto there. I thought of one person I hoped I would latch onto for a really long time. I really hate that city now, this year really made me hate that city. Always extremes.

Anything I went through this year was entirely my fault. It was very whatever. It was very lukewarm. I’d consider that worse than it being a bad year — how do you recover from mediocrity? When it’s bad, you know it can’t get worse. And my knee-jerk reaction to it being good is: it’s about to be bad. But when it’s whatever? Where am I supposed to go from here? I KNOW how to go from one extreme to another, that is easy. That is how I live my life — in extremes, in ups and downs; I try to force change upon myself because I’m terrified of routine — but what do I even do with whatever? TC mark

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