How to Be (2)

Samantha Edmonds


To try something (good lord, anything) else

Grow up, slowly and without noticing. Your mom is your best friend. Pick a school close to her. She will ask you to live at home. Shake your head, but cry when she drops you off on your first day. Call her the first night, in tears, and don’t hang up until she asks if you’d like for her to come up the next day to have lunch with you. You’re practically begging, pleading. Say yes, yes please.

Declare a zoology major because you think animals are cute and soft. You’d like excuses to touch them every day. Think you’d enjoy being a zookeeper. Working with lions and things like that. You stop crying. Call your mother every day anyway, by choice, without prompting from her. Call her in the mornings as you get dressed. Call her in between classes as you walk. She will learn all the names of your professors, your new friends, your social organizations, what you do every day in class.

In school, do poorly in Biology 101. Learn that it’s hard to care about things like ectoplasm unless you’re talking about the X-Files and struggle to understand cells that are so small you can’t see them. Think it’s not hard because you don’t believe that they exist—you know that many of the realest things in the world are things you cannot see—but still, find it difficult to accept it when your professor says cells are living organisms. Think, Are they? Think, What is living? Think about how these cells do not laugh or cry or worry about what’s for dinner. They don’t pay the electric bill and they don’t hate their exes and they aren’t sad and lonely and loved and happy all at once. They exist, okay, but are they living? And are you sure, you ask your professor, are you absolutely sure these things are alive?

Fail biology. Get a dog, if you love animals so much.

Then go to Section 3. You’re a creative writing major.