You are here

Transient Mode: Home, Pt. 2

Cleo van der Veen's picture

Can I be happy here for 15 minutes?


Then let’s regroup in 15 minutes.


“…the Syrian crisis remains a threat to the stability of the region…”


And I did regroup in 15, and then in 30 and in 60.

And the phrases from the briefing books (eventually) drifted from my head. I worry less.

I have learned many methods to trick myself into being happy, but this by far is the most effective. The ways that we pursue escape are often the worst ways to trick yourself into being happy.

I regrouped in a day. (I painted a painting.)

This statement still looms over my head, like the deadlines for homework and that idea that I should go to sleep earlier and call my mother more.

“I get the feeling that you aren't happy here.”

I don't know if I’m happy. I still don't know, but I also think that on some level nobody knows if they are happy, and at the moment I don't really care if I'm happy.

I’m tired of this statement this unasked question looming over my head. I have decided to try my best to ignore it.

I keep myself busy. I find time to have fun and time to do work and time to do classwork and to write a blog. I catapult myself into my work. I read UN briefing books in Spanish. After work. Just for the practice. I intently attend events I'm sent to. I learn more about the Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. I learn about Cyprus. I learn about drones. I overcome a fear of talking on the phone. I stay late at work after everyone has left and kick off my shoes and put on a sweatshirt, make a freezer meal and look out at the people and cars and lives intersecting seven stories below. In these moments of preoccupation, I don't care if I'm happy. I don't even care if I’m alone or that I don't have any friends here or that sometimes I feel lost.


Sometimes I read a book, or go to a café. Sometimes I call my mother and go to bed early.


Occasionally, when I want to excercise my own authority as an adult, I get frozen yogurt for dinner. I walk down to the White House while I taste spoonfuls of sweet and tangy dessert. In those circumstances, it is impossible to not be content. But when the frozen dessert has finally disappeared and the sky turns purple after a long or unsatisfying day at work, and it’s time to go home, a tinge of loneliness wafts through the air. My mind turns to memories of friends so distant that the images faded have turned to a melancholy aftertaste of what once was.


But this internship ends in four weeks. And as I realize that I will have to leave, and the more I realize what this leaving means, the more that I realize: I love this job.

I love working with smart people, I love that I’m starting to find a place here. I love that I believe in what I’m doing.

Sometimes love trumps happiness. Sometimes it trumps the feeling of displacement and the inconvenience of having to wear a suit and makeup to work. I’m not happy at my job all the time, but I do love it.

I really, really love this job.