The In-Betweeners

. 6 min read . Written by Kuba Vitek
The In-Betweeners

And there goes the dreams again! I woke up for the third time tonight, cortisol levels through the roof, ready to fight a bitch. I wouldn't call these nightmares per se, but they are always followed with a rapid heart beat, cold sweat and a nasty aftertaste that momentarily bleeds into my waking reality. These dream scenarios change and vary from totally abstract to actual past or potential future events, but they all have one thing in common - I am somehow being grossly wronged on a cosmic level and I stand up to my oppressors (it can be my parents or an imaginary boss or a thousand-tentacled Karen behind me in a checkout line at Lidl) and of course - I'm always right and always cool & collected because I know I'm right, which in itself means I won the argument, so being impressively articulate and cutting so very deep with my PhD-level reasoning is just an added slap in the face. Yet somehow I always wake up feeling like I AM THE LOSER. Because I am.

For one, we've been sleeping in a guest room at my in-laws for a month now. I would not call that a winning situation in any scenario. If on top you're soon to be forty and travelling the world from gig to a gig without building a business or at least a family - boomers will always be only a little step away from getting you sectioned. Our current way of life is the easiest thing to defend when things go well, but when the ride slows down & the jobs pool dries up, let me just tell you, what a fertile soil for an imposter syndrome to sprout. You are a millennial after all, so you'll find yourself fighting for what you feel you're owed by life in your dreams, because there's no one and nothing - but your own entitlement - to fight against in real life.

One of our colleagues from this past winter season in Val d'Isere just started her summer job onboard a luxury yacht sailing around the Mediterranean, the other is living out her Lana del Rey music video-hipster camper van nomad fantasy with a guy she straddled all throughout the winter. We've had so many potential summer gigs lined up, but one by one they peeled off our imaginary planning board, mostly because we are only available until the end of September.

Which should be a good thing! Starting October, a potentially very long-term job in Tuscany is waiting for us: one that we totally manifested during these past few years on the road by discovering what worked well and what didn't, what felt good and what we cannot put ourselves through ever again. Knock on wood, it could be the one to make all the hardships of the past few years well worth it. So why is it so hard now leaning into the summer and just waiting for our contract to start?

Oh yes, because we're homeless and have no savings. Because we're well past the age when being hosted at parents house feel natural and as a stress / worry / tension -free undertaking. I type this from inside our car, as I sit roasting on direct sun, and I can tell you, I feel more at home here than at either mine or David's parents, possibly/most likely because we own this car and in here, even being cooked alive feels more liberating than spending a night at the in-laws.

And yes, I can hear my privilege screaming at me as I type. And my left brain's interventions too: your reality is only a result of your choices, which you do have power over blablabla. Let me boil for a bit, ok?! If I wanted share a heavily curated, air-brushed version of our 'on the road' reality - which I think serves no one and nothing other than generating an imposter syndrome for someone else - I'd still be on Facebook and Instagram.  

Life on the road can be incredibly liberating, but also incredibly lonely. It can feel so right, but only as long as you're not asked to explain it to someone who subscribeo Mon-Fri, 9-5 modality. It's exhilarating when things are clicking-in, gigs are lining-up and roads remain open. But it's still only a way of life, which means things will not always click and you WILL run into road blocks.

And due to these seeming doldrums, your brain of course latches onto things of no substance and consequence, just to fill the void, like when I convinced myself there was an ancient untreated spot on my back that I urgently needed to probe with all kinds of needles and instruments, only to create a complete inflamed and angry carnage, that now resembles a  throbbing egg underneath a catastrophically damaged purple skin tissue behind my left shoulder, for which I had to acquire various antiseptic and antibiotic ointments from local pharmacy and yes, actually, this 'create your own adventure' self-administered surgery worked exactly as intended  in the end - I do have an occupation now. Healing my self-inflicted injuries. Which, I guess, is a perpetual cycle, that we do on different levels subject ourselves to all the time.

And I'm not completely ignorant to the reality as perceived from the other (parents) side. The vast majority of my friends could never spend more than a weekend at a time with their parents and every mandatory visit facilitates months of healing and recovery on both sides. I don't know why I keep thinking of myself - and my parents - to be so different. In my personal narrative (granted totally shaped by a life-long obsession with Gilmore Girls), the usual grown-up kid vs retirement-age parents dynamics do not apply.

In my own deluded Peter Pan story, I'm not a real grown-up and my parents don't age. But much like with other laws of nature, like say gravity, it doesn't matter if you believe in it or not, it still kills you when you jump out of a window.

I can't even imagine the inner turmoil of my parents. Your kid that you've painfully and at a great (not only financial) cost maneuvered towards having the best chance at good life (which in their post-communism experience is a well paid office job you retain until a well paid retirement), is fast approaching the big 40 without any tangible anchors to pin them down to a particular place in Europe or society or a way of life. I do not provide comfort in becoming who they hoped I would be, no signs of ever accumulating the riches they hoped would ease their retirement reality and their medical bills, no grandchildren and still no Oscar winning screenplay with my name on it. And worse yet - no ambition to write one.

I keep repeating I'm much happier than when I worked in advertisement and TV in London, but because unlike the UK chapter in my story, nomading from place to place and a gig to gig does not sound so great when their friends ask about me, they choose not to believe me. Waiting instead rather impatiently and probing on the regular to see if maybe the time has come for my awakening back to (their)reality.

In the last couple of weeks I got married, took my parents on a honeymoon road trip around Provence (granted not the brightest idea I ever had), helped David's mum to move flat from Poitiers to Paris, got a chance to catch-up with all our friends either online or in person, went for an hour swim every day and finished reading two books. All the things I dreamed about and worked towards throughout those dark months of working 60+ hrs per week, November to April.

Yet I still feel restless, inadequate and quite frankly, like a total loser. Me - a very vocal and clearly a very incompetent warrior against the capitalist propaganda, that defines one's worth based on the money produced and the hours clocked in. It's clearly more than effective in making sure we feel completely useless, unless we generate money for other people in exchange for a monthly  allowance to cover our own food and shelter.

Oh. Well. Corrections time. Remember that long-term gig in Tuscany starting October 2023? Aka our one and only certainty looking ahead? It's just been pushed to May 2024! That's a year from now! And there goes the dreams again.