“I don’t wanna go to work.”
“And I don’t want to go to school.”
“I don’t want to go to school either. Let’s play hooky.”
And then he put on his coat and kissed me, before walking out the front door to his car, and off to work. I sighed, turned around, and picked up the flashcards with the origins and insertions of major muscle groups. There’s an exam tomorrow.
We are constrained by honor and duty into the lines life has drawn. You work, you bring home a paycheck, you get to buy groceries and pay the utilities, and live in relative comfort. If you want a better job, you go back to school, no matter how odd it may seem at times to study with children half your age. You give the idea of retirement a hairy eyeball, knowing that it’s both too far away and an unattainable goal. Your life has not been structured around some ideal, but patched together with materials at hand to keep the whole thing running more-or-less smoothly. Like the ISS, it was built out of what could be cobbled together, some kind of existential erector set, and one that was missing pieces, to boot.
Which isn’t to say that we’re unhappy. We’re simply adults making our way in a world that doesn’t always make sense, and it’s tiring. But we’re not going to play hooky, as much as it’s fun to joke about it. When you have hostages to fortune, you go out and do, in the wind, the snow, the sun… it’s all alike. When you’re an adult grown, and back in school, you study like your life depends on… no, you study like your children’s life depends on it. When you have a job, you do it to the fullest extent of your abilities because you have responsibilities who need you to provide for them. This is why you can’t play hooky, because you know that one day soon you will actually be sick, and you need the trust of your boss, or your professor, to say ‘I can’t’ and have it mean something. In case of emergency, you want to have earned the level of trust that will make your no-show to a class result in a concerned email wondering where you were, because you’re reliable.
I don’t think anyone sets out to be a flake. To be constantly late, to have their friends joke about not being able to rely on them. I know I’ve fallen into the trap of over-promising, and then when I can’t deliver for whatever reason, I’m deeply ashamed of myself. I’ve learned to say no to potential clients if I know I can’t do it, whatever ‘it’ is. And in return, I’ve given money I could ill afford to artists and editors only to have them deliver a sub-par product, or not deliver at all, which meant I had to find someone else to do it. These things happen, and then you lose trust, so you don’t call on those people for work again.
Playing hooky on the first warm day of the year sounds like a lovely idea, to laze around with your sweety and maybe bake that bread you’ve been craving. But it’s a trap. Down that road lies broken promises and flaky behaviour, and lost trust. Keep on the dry and dusty road you’ve walked so many times with weary feet. There will be a rest at the end of the week, even if it’s never enough, but more than that… it’s responsibility. We have our duty, and we do it.