After wiping the crust from my eyes, the vague outline of my body rolled up in various fleece blankets appears staring back at me from my sliding mirror doors — you know, the really cheap kind with peeling gold lining that haven’t been replaced since 1972 and are blatantly unforgiving. I roll my eyes at my own reflection as I remember that I once again Postmate-ed a pint of ice cream from the place down the street last night. What is this dreary morning you might ask? Just me, spending my summer waking up to a room with unflattering yellow lighting, commuting to San Francisco for the obligatory internship, all in hopes just to be considered a contender for that purple “participatory ribbon” in life’s rat race (like the kind I got handed after I finished last at my elementary school fundraiser run and then proceeded to have an asthma attack.)
Dragging my feet, I shuffle my way toward the 51B stop just a block over. I check my bus app, which is just about as accurate a WebMD diagnosis or an evolution class in Alabama. Somewhere between biting the last remnant of my thumbnail and getting a few Bumble swipes in (no “Steve,” I don’t want to “grab drinks,” I just need you to like my latest Instagram to get to 200), the steaming beast that is the 51B rolls up and welcomes me with open doors. Peering around, I see my fellow Bears head to toe in pantsuits and striped ties. Is that the frat star I made out with on a table last week holding a briefcase?! You bet. I turn my music up just a little louder to drown out that memory. The robotic overhead voice mumbles something about Oak Grove as my fellow minimum wage interns and I march toward BART just trying to make a name for ourselves. For those out-of-towners and new admits (quick, it’s not too late to transfer, the quarter schools haven’t started yet, save yourself while you can) it’s not The BART, just BART, understood? A sea of 20-something-year-old Willy Lomans marches toward the entrance as I’m bringing up the rear. Remember the asthma attack story? Not much has changed. Naturally my clipper card is out of money, so I scramble through my bag to find a leftover BART pass, the really flimsy paper kind that you can’t be caught dead with if you’re a true commuter. I’m almost positive it has a few dollars on it from some happy-hour-gone-wrong that required us to skirt the underground tracks and splurge on an Uber ride home. Waiting for my train, I flip my BART pass rhythmically in my palm over and over so the bleeding red letters on the bottom of the ticket that scream “1-800-pleasedontkillyourself” taunt me every other turn of the card. They really said, “screw subtlety” this time; I guess they couldn’t afford another set of train delays.
Peering around, I see my fellow Bears head to toe in pantsuits and striped ties. Is that the frat star I made out with on a table last week holding a briefcase?! You bet.
Sardined among the true adults, the smell of piss and syrup fills the air, the latter oddly more discomforting than the first. I somehow managed to finesse my way into an aisle seat, which sounds like a good idea, until I look up and realize some bald man’s bulge is in my face creating the most unsightly mental image. The screeching rails scrape off the remains of my wine hangover, caused by the previous night’s binge in my neighborhood liquor store’s “Driest red under ten dollars.” Emerging from the depths of BART on the jerking escalator covered with questionable stains, I am greeted by the locals of the Civic Center entrance who promptly ask me “How much?” with a few dolla-dolla bill throwing hand motions. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a white button down and slacks exactly scream “Vivian Ward.”
Once actually at my internship, I sit at my corner desk in my big rolling chair — the one joy I am awarded — and sift through photos of high schoolers across the globe having the summer of my dreams. Working for a company that sponsors international travel for high school students truly allowed me to live vicariously through my glory days as a sophomoric teen. While I would never wish the age of 14 on my worst enemy, I find myself longing for a chore list, Hollister tanks and a punishment for coming home in the early morning instead of an applause from my roommates. After hours of social media marketing, the token career path of the Millennial generation, and spending an hour’s pay on a bougie fruit smoothie, the reverse journey commences — only a little longer and a little sweatier.
My homeward-bound 51B stop is all too conveniently located in front of said neighboring liquor store where I personally support about half the monthly gross income. After a little schmoozing with the front counter guy, who once gave me extra quarters for my laundry after divulging to me his estranged relationship with his side-bae, I head home with my red wine tucked safely in a paper bag. I contemplate throwing my clothes in an incinerator as I strip down to my underwear and examine the damage of this morning’s egg bagel in my unsympathetic wall-sized mirrors. I give myself an undeserved P for Pass, which coincidentally also means a P for Postmates. As I cocoon myself in my fleece blankets and wait for my pint, I bask in my room’s artificial yellow glow and dream of a metamorphosis into a young working professional.
Elizabeth Gordon is a writer for the Weekender. Contact her at [email protected]