Take a weekend off from Yale. Just do it. Leave it all behind, escape the bubble, give yourself a break.
My whole college career, I’ve known this to be a truth, but that doesn’t mean that actually made me do anything. Every year, I’ve been all “oh no, oh gosh, I might get behind on my work” or “I have rehearsal.” But when you die and you’re replaying the highlight reel of your life, do you think being stuck in the Broadway Rehearsal Lofts for your first off-book run-through is going to make the final cut? I hope not. Unless you literally die in the Broadway Rehearsal Lofts. What a terrible place to die.
Two weekends ago I finally did the unthinkable and listened to my own advice: LEAVE, MATTHEW. GO FORTH. ENJOY LIFE. So I did. My girlfriend Tessa and I met in the great state of Texas for a weekend. We went to the State Fair of Texas, which is also known as the Disney World of Texas, which is also a lie because it’s not known by that to anyone but me.
The State Fair is an enormous wonderland (the biggest fair in country, obviously) filled with everything one might imagine a fair in Texas contains: ferris wheels the height of sky scrapers, funhouses with tricky stairs and trippy mirrors, taffy machines, milking demonstrations, pirate-themed water shows, the state-level competition for Teenage Goat Wrangling (the wranglers, not the goats), car shows filled with pick-up trucks and rock-climbing walls, a four-story-tall cowboy named Big Tex, more fat people than you could ever conceive in a single location at once, a sausage on a stick, a cheesecake on a stick, a man on a stick (an optical illusion I hope, but he seemed so real), homemade rootbeer, Shiner Bock beer, fried beer. Yes. Fried beer. (It’s gross. You might think the novelty of the snack might make it worthwhile, but it doesn’t — the whole experience feels like chewing on damp cardboard found in an alley behind a McDonald’s).
Everything was so refreshingly different from Yale. My God, Texas is the antithesis of Yale: friendly, fat and fun. And racist. That’s beside the point. I literally felt like I plugged my body into a wall socket and that little green battery icon from the iPhone popped-up on my head or whatever. Each day I woke up (all two of them) not thinking of class or being overcommitted or what the heck I’m going to do with my life oh my God that’s next year — but rather, just simply tuning out. Letting my mind drift. Feeling the grease from the fried corny dogs soak into my skin and give me chin pimples. I didn’t have to look at the ole iCal and say, “Oh no, I get up at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 3 a.m. again tomorrow?” We can’t help this business, nor should we. Yale is fucking expensive, so do as much as you can while you can. But you owe it to yourself to give yourself the greatest gift known to the driven man: some breathing room.
So was the trip worth it? Let’s pretend I handed this scenario to someone from Boston Consulting Group. They crunch some numbers and hand me back this report:
52 — the number of hours I spent in Dallas
19 — the number of hours I spent door-to-door from New Haven to Dallas and back
8 — the number of emails in my inbox before I left
133 — the number of emails in my inbox when I returned
90 — the grade I might have gotten on my midterm if I hadn’t gone away
Credit — the grade I aim for in that class anyway because it’s Credit/D/Fail
But tell me, imaginary number cruncher from Boston Consulting because I don’t actually know what a consultant does, can you quantify fun? Wild abandon? Seeing a prize hog that weighs almost a ton? I should think not. Instead, look at life from that moment right before you die. From there, you can eat all the fried beer you want, even if it means dying earlier than you thought.