The End (and a New Beginning)

I woke up at 5 in the morning, got up from my bed, picked up the nearest T-Shirt and Jeans, made it from my home to the bus station, sat in those spaceless vans that you can barely move your ankles in, and bent myself forward by at least 30 degrees – to enter and to leave – lest I risk bumping my head against the roof.

I brought my earphones with me, but my phone was running out of battery so what’s the use?

It was a pretty big day – not because anything spectacular happened but because it marked the end of an ongoing saga. No more classes, no more grades, no more assignments, no more teachers, no more exams, no more tests, no more quizzes, no more honor lists, no more GPAs, and most importantly, no more university.

I no longer have to carry that green Skullcandy backpack that I got for free with my headphones back in Grade 10 or so. I no longer have to wonder whether or not I’m getting good grades or whether or check how many absences I have left.

I went in to have what is the last exam of my life and I honestly didn’t care enough to study any of the material aside from a half-awake reading session of the course material the day prior. That day had very little personal risk for me and frankly, I had very little to gain from it anyways so I just did what I had to do.

Of course, I had the usual post-exam panic. I walked out of the exam hall, and next to the library, I saw a woman that I thought looked vaguely familar. I asked to borrow her phone so that I can calculate my grade.

“You just came out of an exam, yeah?”
“Yeah, I can totally relate to be honest”

From there I thought it would be a shame not to carry the conversation forward, we talked for a little while and eventually we ended sitting at one of the sandwich shops/cafĂ© at the university parking lot. It’s called La Cantina. We began to talk about the usual things: where are you from, what’s your major, why did you pick that major, how long till you graduate, tell me a little about your life, etc…

This is where people carefully construct themselves and deconstruct each other. This is where an observant person can begin to find the red flags, the bad habits, and the *ahem* “interesting” beliefs. This is where you play coffee cup psychic and try to imagine your future with someone.

For most of the people I met throughout my life, very little happens between us after that encounter, so I didn’t really have any expectations – but I also simutaneously desired that something unusual should happen. I mean, that’s how all the love stories start: the chance encounter. It’s also happened to me before, but to anyone who’s read through my Whirlwind series, you are probably familar with this stanza:

When someone comes
into your life
as a whirlwind,

it’s a bad omen.

I guess you can say that that “chance encounter” ended up being a huge disaster. I don’t regret that it happened but I’m also glad that this person no longer exists in my life. Though I sometimes do wonder if she’s still alive, I have went on a few dates, had a few flings, so I’m not really pining for her to come back – I actually prefer that she remain in this “dead to me” zone.

Anyways… back to the girl at the sandwich shop

So far, my inner psychoanalyst has found any – what you would call – deal breakers. Maybe a little bit of controlling behavior…

“…I’m really against smoking. I remember finding my older brother’s box of cigarettes and chucking them in the bin.
“That seems really expensive, no?”
“It’s just that I don’t want the people I love to get hurt by this bad habit. I’m not really a live-and-let-live person, at least not when it comes to the people who are important to me. I don’t really mind it when it comes to strangers.”

A few not very well-examined convictions…

“…I mean, can you tell me what the risk factors of GMOs are?”
“I don’t really know to be honest but I mean there are very bad side effects to the GMOs. We shouldn’t really mess with nature.”
“You do know that one of the reasons why global poverty has been decreasing these past few decades is because of GMOs, right?”

But honestly, nothing screamed “get the fuck out of there” to me.

She seemed nice. I actually enjoyed meeting her.

After our small chit-chat, we went our separate ways and exchanged numbers. My phone, as you might recall, was still off so I just asked her to SMS me and I’ll add her back.

I thought I should go home for some much needed sleep but not before having one last conversation with the man who had been my advisor/mentor for the last three years. He hasn’t been himself these last 5 to 6 months and I only started to figure out why. I honestly wouldn’t be so happy myself if I had to go through the same changes and disappointments that he did.

I spoke to him a little bit about my future plans and stuff. It was a particularly amicable though somewhat vague conversation. It was honestly nice to actually sit down and speak with him again like I used to. Though to be honest, I was too fucked in the head from lack of sleep to carry a decent conversation at that point, so I took the bus home and caught up on some much needed sleep.

Damn! It’s all over now…

By Omar Jamal

Photo by Kareem Nofal (@robotremade on instagram)

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