Quinn Wilde spends a formative year studying at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and living in Fife Park, the cheapest student residence in the UK. 'It will be a mess of memories, as best they are remembered. It will be a scattershot of histories, because I do not know what parts I can afford to leave out. There are mistakes and faux pas, damages and destruction, passions and revelations, longing and belonging, love, mystery, tragedy, respect, and just a tiny little bit of sex which has been romanticised and overstated to the point of hyperbole, and in any case was had by other people.'
I am a grown man. I have a house, and a well paying job. I am desperately unhappy.
I’m unhappy all of the time, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying myself. If you can’t see past that contradiction, you are probably one of the many people who would never guess that I’m unhappy. You probably don’t believe me, even now. If you knew me, you’d believe it even less. Thanks a lot. This Oscar-winning performance is for jerks like you.
I am not having a mid-life crisis. I am thirty years old. As it turns out, that is not particularly old, and it doesn’t make me unhappy. Just sometimes, I wonder how I spent the last ten years. But this is not an age thing. I’m glad I’m thirty. People take me seriously. At first, anyway.
I bought a house at the worst time in history, because it was the right time for me. I knew it was the worst time in history. Other people said it was the best. I waxed lyrical about it at the time – sometimes, I said, you just have to do what’s right for you. It’s right for everyone, people said, houses only ever go up in value! Now that the crash has happened, everybody else saw it coming and I’m the idiot. That doesn’t make me unhappy. That makes me feel smug and unappreciated. Plus, I like owning my house. I would have paid double to end my hate-hate relationship with estate agents and landlords.
I appear to be good at my job because, frankly, most people are not. They are the smart ones. Being good at your job is an awful idea. You will only ever get extra work by being good at something, and you will be passed over for promotion because you’re too damn valuable to lose. That doesn’t make me unhappy. That makes me exhausted. If I end up having a breakdown, that will make me unhappy, but I expect that by then I’ll be too far gone to care.
For a long time I simply had no idea why I was unhappy, and no notion to do anything about it. I thought there was just something wrong with me. But then I remembered that there had been a time when I felt differently. There was a time in my life when I felt happy, all of the time, even when I was miserable. Ten years have passed. Now mostly the feeling I get, when I think back to St. Andrews, is that I have momentarily lost something of great importance.
Sometimes these days I walk from room to room, looking for something I had just seconds ago. And sometimes, doing so, I find it. That’s the best explanation I have for what follows.
It will be a mess of memories, as best they are remembered. It will be a scattershot of histories, because I do not know what parts I can afford to leave out. There are mistakes and faux pas, damages and destruction, passions and revelations, longing and belonging, love, mystery, tragedy, respect, and just a tiny little bit of s-x which has been romanticised and overstated to the point of hyperbole, and in any case was had by other people.
It can start like this: I spent a year in Fife Park. Nothing at all happened, and nothing ever changed me more.