Rain pelts the windshield of my Subaru as Brian and I drive by cow after cow en route to driving school. We will be stuck together in this car for a total of four hours this week winding along these same streets. Not so much “stuck”, I volunteered to drive Brian to class after he lost his license following a series of red tape nonsense.
“So, while I have you in here do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” I ask.
“Right now?” he asks.
I whip out a microphone and toss a list of questions towards the brightly colored jersey in my periphery vision. Brian is wearing a soccer jersey, as usual with a pair of cargo shorts. He likes to joke that it is mandatory for him to wear at least one soccer-themed article of clothing at all times.
“Okay, first things first you have to stop at a Dunkin Donuts or a convenience store and get me something if we’re going to do this, okay?” he jokes.
In this series, “Strength in Numbers” I talk to humans at different ages and points in their life. Today we meet Brian, a 23-year-old post grad who commutes from “the sticks” to a job he loves at a radio station in the city. He is very skinny with a thick Boston accent that does not match his body. His dark hair and light skin lean towards gray from the cigarette habit he picked up in college. Everything about his outward appearance screams cranky, stressed-out, and profoundly tired. Whether from too many cigarettes or too little breakfast, who’s to say? Oh, to be 23-years-old.
What is making you happy right now?
I have a couple cool events coming up soon. I have a soccer game I’m going to go to, a concert, and my friend Carlos is having a DJ set in a couple of days. Oh! Game of Thrones is coming up. I’m happy about all those things.
What is bothering you?
As I was saying, I don’t have a license right now and for all the shit I’ve done in my life, I didn’t even do anything to bring this upon myself. My license was suspended due to circumstances beyond my control and I can’t get anywhere. That’s a problem because I live in the sticks. You need a car to get places.
Tell me a happy memory.
The last big weekend that I had at UMass I had a lot of friends come up to visit me for, I can’t remember exactly why we did it but for some reason, we set up a poker night. I think it might just have been because we knew we had a lot of people coming up to visit us in one weekend and we just wanted to make something happen, but we ended up having everyone at our house which we never really do. We didn’t really have a party house but we had all the boys over.
It was me, my three roommates, two other kids who I grew up with that went to UMass and my friends Eric, Justin, Ryan, and Sean all came up to visit us. We played cards. I almost won but I didn’t but there were 200 dollars in the pot. Sean ended up spending all the money on drinks that exact night at Stackers. It was awesome. It was one of the last great boys’ nights we had my senior year at UMass.
When is the last time you received an unexpected nice gesture?
When my two co-workers volunteered to drive me wherever I needed to go when my license was suspended without me having to ask.
What is something small you regret?
There’s a Dunkin Donuts that is 25 minutes from my house walking distance and there’s a convenience store that sells hot coffee 10 minutes from my house walking distance. This morning, instead of walking 25 minutes by taking the long route to Dunkin I took the short route to get crappy convenience store hot coffee. I immediately regretted my decision.
What is something big you regret?
I regret not being more honest with people when I was younger.
What do you wish you did more of?
I wish I read more and I wish I exercised more. I enjoy both of those things but I don’t do them nearly as often as I should considering how much I enjoy them.
What do you wish you did less of?
What frightens you?
Not meeting the goals that I set for myself frightens me. Especially not setting the goals that I set for myself when I was younger and more idealistic.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to settling into a rhythm with my job [in radio] and living on my own. I look forward to becoming something resembling an adult. I’ve been out of school for a year now and while I’m doing really, really well for myself I still don’t feel like I’m… domesticated yet.
When you imagine yourself in your head, how old are you?
[What are you doing?]
I don’t know, that’s a hard one.
[How do you feel?]
[Are you in any specific location?]
[Are you wearing anything specific]
Light clothes, it’s not summer just yet but spring. You know when it gets past spring break it’s like 63 degrees out but you’re still in a sleeveless shirt.
How do you feel about aging?
I am very content with it. Of all the things in the world that I stress about I am so okay with aging. I often joke about how I think I show a lot of early signs of aging but I joke about it because it’s something I’m totally fine with. I have noticeable gray hairs on the top of my head. My hair line has receded since college started. My face looks a little rougher. I have the smoking lines on my cheeks. That doesn’t rank in my top thirty-five problems.
What’s the best thing about being you?
The best thing about being me is that I get to set my own rules for myself.
[“I like that,” I say. He nods in response and clicks off the microphone.]
Check out the other interviews in my Strength in Numbers series!