Chicago Visit

Chicago Day 1:

Ben and I left for Chicago around nine in the morning last Saturday. Saying goodbye Mom started crying, which then made Ben cry, which made Pop cry, which then made me cry because I have never seen my father cry before.

We took pictures, and then Ben and I headed out.

We drove up through Iowa, noting the stereotypical corn fields, and sketchy gas stations which only filled our tank with a ½ gallon a pop and then refused to provide more.

Ben drove, then I drove, then Ben drove. Ben provided excellent conversation when I was driving, and then when he drove I would stuff my face with food and then immediately pass out.

We ended the trip both consuming a family size bag of chips and raspberry soda.

Arriving in Chicago around 6 pm, I was in awe at the constant stream of landing and taking off planes overhead. They reminded me of sharks in the sky.

Driving into Albany Park, Ben’s new neighborhood, we were very aware of the massive, rusted falling apart bridges we drove under, complete with trash sprinkled along wire fences and vacant barred windows of shops.

“It’s like everyone’s okay with this,” we observed from our naive Kansas backgrounds.

The further we drove down the main street, the more populated it became. There were international shops and restaurants all over. Still the massive rusted bridge vibe going on, though. Felt a little uneasy still.

His apartment turned out to be really great- looked just like a castle. He’s in teh basement with Alex, while Diana and Bella are on the top floor.

We finished unpacking his car with the help of Mark, who I initiated conversation with when I met him, and then gave up after that. He was either shy, or couldn’t give a fuck about me. We didn’t speak again for the next four days we lived together.

Stuart and Diana’s parents were there, and it was nice to see them. Everyone was exhausted from unpacking, and went to bed early.

Ben and I walked half a block down, and had a late dinner at “Pita Puff,” a Mediterranean cafe. They gave us the biggest portions I’ve ever had for the least money. I got a football size falafel pita, Ben got shwarma dinner for seven and we shared a bowl full of hummus.

Our waitress was the cutest girl ever, with a thick Arabic accent. She was slightly disappointed in our failed efforts to eat all the food, though.

Chicago Day 2:

Wake up early having a mild anxiety attack. Tried some meditation, and then fell back asleep.

Diana was avoiding me, and I don’t know the other roommates so well. I feel like I am very unwanted there, and have to get out.

They don’t have internet at their apartment yet, and I don’t have a smartphone. I ask Ben how to get to the city, and he says he doesn’t know either, and to go figure it out.

So, for lack of anything else to do, I head out on the terrifying streets from the night before.

And they’re not so terrifying in the daylight.

I walk a few blocks, and stumble across the train right away.

I go up to buy a ticket, and then realize I have no idea where to go. I don’t even remember where the touristy places to go in Chicago are. I go up to the front desk and almost literally ask the lady for a ticket to “Where All the People Are.”

She tells me “Where all the People Are” is downtown in the loop, in the nicest way. She saves me a lot of time and money, and I am grateful to her for the rest of my trip. Especially just for the smile.

I get a day pass, and get on the El. I think at various points during the rickety open air ride on the subway train on stilts thirty feet or so above ground that I will soon shorty die. I thought about getting off it after one particularly terrifying speed racing creaking curve around the ancient track. But then realized I had to ride it back, anyway. So I might as well carry forward. I think this is a good metaphor for life.

By the end of the day I had come to trust the El, or at least be at peace with whatever destination it decided to grant me.

Another good metaphor for life.

And then I was downtown.

And thinking about all the germs on my hands as I pushed through the barrier out of the train platform and into the busy downtown.

I don’t quite remember what I did that first day, I think I just wandered a lot.

I was searching for a cafe to hide out in, but it turns out that Starbucks is very popular in Chicago. And there is one on most every street corner downtown and little other choice of cafe. It was Sunday, so most everything was closed anyway, which was surprising to me. I thought a city like Chicago never stopped. Was a little disappointed in this.

I stumbled across Willis tower, and was pretty shocked by it’s magnitude. And wondered why it changed its name.

I was very self conscious this first day, and was pretty sure everyone and their mother knew I was from Kansas just by the way that I breathed.

I ended up walking down to the lakefront.

A life of old men and yachts, and then young people jogging and biking by the shore with city bikes.

I found a nice spot in the grass and read a book for two hours.

It started to get a bit chilly around 3 or 4, so I headed back toward town.

In the park there was a traditional Chinese music concert. I sat down and began to read again. But only for a moment because I head shouting moments later, and instinctively put my book away and followed the commotion.

It turned out to be a very dramatic protest against military funding to Israel. I have never seen a protest this large, hundreds and hundreds of people- most of Arabic descent.

I started crying a little bit at the sheer emotion of it, surprising myself. It was a combination of sadness about the current Palestinian humanitarian crisis being presented to me, but I think I also cried a little bit just because it felt good to see people giving a shit about other people.

I took a lot of pictures and followed the protest, but then, slowly started to dip my toe off the sidewalk and into the streets with them. I ended up joining the protest for most of the walk around the main loop of the Chicago downtown. And felt very surprised with myself, but also at peace. I wasn’t worried about finishing books, finding jobs, making good first impressions. I was just there.

One woman touched me on the shoulder in passing and said “Thank you.”

I was hesitant to join in the beginning because it was an obvious demographic leading and participating in the march, which I did not fit into. But eventually I decided that that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with others. It doesn’t have to be your march, but you should walk in solidarity with others if you agree with them.

Because I think it makes a difference.

At the end of the protest the protesters met and had speakers from Ecuador, Palestine and Chicago.

Then I walked away in a daze. Changed a bit for that afternoon. But not sure how I had been changed, yet.

I went to the bookstore and got a coffee. Then took the El home.

That was the difference, I think. I wasn’t scared on the El this time, because I had forced myself to do it before, and because I had just experienced an afternoon of throwing myself into opportunity. And I had realized that if you don’t join in, you don’t live. And when you say yes to what you want to do, you give yourself the power of presence, power, purpose and progress.

Back at home I ate my leftovers from Pita Puff, and then watched a slasher movie about a “good housewife” with Ben.

Then I went upstairs to talk to Diana.

I was shaking when I initiated the conversation- I had literally no idea what was going on, or what she was going to tell me. Or if she would even talk to me at all.

But it turned out to be much better than I had expected. I wasn’t looking for a resolution, I told her. Just dialogue. It felt good to be talking again, and being really honest with how we had been making one another feel. Maybe for the first time ever in our fifteen year relationship.

I cried a lot. Like the embarrassing kind where you can’t even express your point of view because you’re doing those crazy hiccup sobs? That’s my immediate go to lately for emotional situations. She was upset as well, and it was nice to see we both actually gave a shit, too.

Chicago Day 3:

Day three I wake up feeling pretty good. I make a spontaneous plan to go to Evanston, a northern Chicago suburb that Ben is planning on doing stand up comedy in.

Of course, I do minimal research, and go off a vague idea of the direction (North) and jump on the El, assuming I’ll figure it out.

After three transfers, I feel pretty good about my grasp of the Chicago transit system.

It takes me an hour and a half, and I debate on which stop to get off at. I choose Dempster over Davis, disgusted by the name- but hoping the location compensates for verbal distaste.

It doesn’t. Dempster is sad and desolate looking, with rougher vibes than I’m used to resonating off the dusty roads and rusting bridges.

I decide to wander a bit, thinking I’ll find Evanston downtown.

I walk one direction, and run straight into a worker’s strike. I attempt to take pictures in a continuation of my political activism photos, but soon realize that the workers are staring at me in disdain. And I quickly hide my camera and pretend to be fascinated by the sky.

I stumble upon a sign pointing to “Downtown.” I begin walking in this direction, happy with the new insight to this strangely rich and empty part of town.

Fifteen minutes later I’ve found the downtown, and am a little overwhelmed. I was looking for more of a tiny quirky college downtown, but this one is full of chain stores and restaurants, towering in shining plastic glory.

I walk and walk and walk and it seems never ending, but with nothing much to look at. Not nearly enough bikers with dreads and tattoos for my taste.

I settle into a cafe called the Unicorn cafe and get a decaf coffee. Upon entering this cute guy in the back of the cafe makes eye contact with me, and smiles enthusiastically. I think, this must be another case of me having that familiar face. I ignore him, as you do, and five minutes later my theory is confirmed as another short haired brunette girl walks in with a smile and tone of voice almost identical to mine and leaps into his arms.

And I overhear the two of them speaking, because they sit right behind me. And the guy is talking about this guy he’s crushing on across the cafe. And she tells him to go for it. So then this guy that I thought was cute, who mistakenly thought I was his best friend, walks over and awkwardly asks this other guy out. It was so absurd and beautiful.

After finishing my coffee, I realize I am really hungry. I go to Panera. Because there’s really not many vegetarian options in this city. I get a hummus panini and soup.

Then I go to a bookstore, and pick up a deck of tarot cards to buy. But then I realize that I would judge me if I saw myself buying a deck of tarot cards at a Barnes and Nobles. But I really want to get them. I’m thinking they’ll help inspire variety and new situations into my life. So what do I do? I spend the next hour in the existentialist section of the store attempting to pick out books to buy along with the cards to make me look like the logical realist that I am, not the whimsical tarot card lover that I also am.

Ben shows up a bit later, and I decide not to buy anything. And actually, I decide at that point and time I am making it a principle not a buy anything unnecessary ever again other than food, beverages and cheap books to be scattered when finished.

Ben and I go to the library, and I finish the Gloria Steinem book I had brought along, and leave it on a library desk. With all my annotations and spur of the moment thoughts inside.

Inside the cover, as I’m walking away, I realized I wrote a sentence long ago which I hope will inspire another. I decide I must do this with every book I ever own for the rest of my life.

And hopefully I’ll find some books of my own when I need that extra sentence.

I meet up with Ben later- he’s reading by a fountain. We both decide to challenge one another to identify as extroverts for the next year. And see how it changes our life by just changing how we identify with ourselves.

Then we write and read and be introverts for a few hours, then head to Na Na falafel chain. Na Na’s is just like a Mediterranean Chipotle. They start with falafel in a freshly made pita, then you tell them what else to add. Cabbage, hummus, salsa, etc. I also got lentil soup which was amazing.

Remember earlier before when I was embarrassed to buy the Tarot cards from Barnes and Nobles? I told myself while I was there, “It doesn’t matter, you’ll never see this cashier ever again.” I didn’t buy the cards, but it turns out that cute hipster cashier was to show up right in front of me hours later at Na Na’s. We both recognized each other, and I silently thanked the world I had refrained from buying the cards. But also wished I had had the guts to go up and talk to him.

During dinner, Ben’s friend texts him to tell him Robin Williams has died. It sets a weird tone over the evening.

Then we head out to grab the El and head to a Second City show.

Ben’s “pretty sure” it’s on the orange line, which is a few transfers from where we’re at now. It’s going to take at least an hour and a half, and we only have an hour to get there.

We decide to try our luck anyway.

An hour and a half later, we’re on the orange line, and getting off at Ashland late at night. And it’s deserted and a bit terrifying. Ben says this is definitely not where Second City is, but we might as well walk around and make sure.

I’m not so sure, and about halfway down the block I make an executive decision to go back. We learn later that Second City is on the brown line, and easy and quick to get to from his house. I really have no idea where we were at. But I knew I did not like it.

Getting back on the El, this kid with a bike goes up and quietly speaks with the transit authority, and she lets him on for free. Then she tells us to come through for free as well. That was the second time that day someone had let us one for free. Was really nice.

The ride home we talked a lot, and it was very busy. I felt very comfortable on the El at night, with a little dash of excitement and unpredictability with so many people packed so close to one another.

Chicago Day 4:

Day four I set off for downtown again.

It began raining while on the El, and I had a sudden surge of confidence with the turn of weather. Staring out the windows of the train at the gloomy city that doesn’t stop moving- I felt very close to everyone else on the train.

Getting off the train downtown I was freezing in the middle of August, wearing four layers and feeling one with the city.

I appreciated, as I walked through the business district, all the workers huddled together under the overhangs, smoking their hearts out with scowls on their faces. All the young people with hoods up and collars pulled tightly around their necks, laughing and crying. And all the hoity-toity business people with their plastic protective umbrellas shielding them from society.

I wandered around a bit, and then ended up in the theater district.

I found a cafe, and bought a panini and a coffee and sat outside under the overhang and read, wrote, and listened to the absurd characters walking by for the next few hours.

The birds were crazy- people nudging pigeons aside with their feet as they walked by. And me having to swat away the tiny finches buzzing around my face like bees.

After the cafe I got out and walked around a bit more, bought another coffee and a newspaper, then headed to the park.

On the way to the park some man came up into my face and said “HEY LADDYYY.” And I told him to fuck off.

In my head.

In real life I just ignored him and walked past.

In the park I read the paper, sat at a table with an umbrella attached to it in the still pouring rain.

I was artistically satisfied as the print slowly bled on the paper as I finished it. As if it only existed for me to read it, and then it disappeared into wet, wordless slices of tree to be recycled life again.

There was a sweet, quiet guy feeding the pigeons across from me while I was reading. And a newscaster filming, repeating the same line over and over, as a pigeon flew in front of his face every time. And then there was a couple taking wedding pictures on top of tables. And people from every country in the word, speaking all the languages.

I took a walk over the bridge to see the city better, and found myself right in front of the art museum. I have never particularly been a fan of art museums, but something was drawing me toward this one. I had seen advertisements for it all over the buildings we passed on the train into the city. The theme was “UNTHINK” in relation to various everyday life events. Unthink vacations, eye appointment, lunch, mugs, hunger, pets, sightseeing, etc.

So I bought a ticket and went in. An hour before the museum closed. And I found myself a little bit, or maybe a lot, in love with Magritte.

I remember learning about him during my art history course in Leicester, but we all know I wasn’t particularly focusing on school while in Europe, so it didn’t make much of an impact on me then. But seeing the paintings in real life right in front of me, I was filled with much emotion and had my mind bent in many new directions. I especially appreciated Magritte because he was a surrealist with dramatic ideas to get across, but his paintings are minimalistic and calm. With the image slowly challenging you, in a subtle and understandable way.

They had the picture of his famous “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. My favorites were the picture of an artist looking at an egg and painting a bird, the one with a woman’s body as her face, and the painting of an eye with the sky inside of it.  I also really appreciated all the paintings with words on them- especially the ones that had specific words on various nondescript shapes over the art.

The exhibit was very well done, and was arranged along with the story of Magritte’s life, with quotes from him. At one point in his life, in the middle of his career, he exclaimed to close friends that he had figured it out. That anything could become anything. That everything is connected and it’s all just perspective. And we are able to change perspective. And that’s what he made his life’s work about, challenging perspective and continuity in thought and sight.

After the museum I was in a trance. I walked out without a care in the world, completely zenned out and ready to experience life with new eyes. It wore off an hour or so later, but is definitely something I am going to explore more.

I ended up at a coffee shop by the art museum and got lentil soup and a beer for dinner. I took my food and drink over to a window seat, and sat down to read, cracking my beer open and feeling pretty good about myself.

Minutes after I sit down, a elderly British woman comes over and asks if anyone is sitting in the chair across from me. I say no, go ahead, as I’m sipping my beer. And she says, “Thank you” and “Oh, that soup looks good.” And then she stares out the window.

It’s that moment when you realize someone wants to talk to you, and you’d like to talk to them. So you have to start with something bland like the weather, to get the ball rolling.

“It’s so cold out today,” I say, introducing dialogue.

And then we’re like best friends for the next half hour.

She tells me all about her life- she lives in London and has worked for the BBC making documentaries for the past fifty years. Her first marriage was to an Australian, and she lived there for 20 years and raised her kids there. Her second marriage was to a Brit, but he decided he wanted to move to Australia, too, and they just bought 1,000 acres three hours outside of Sydney and are building a home there. She quit her job at the BBC 10 years ago, because it was “bad for marriage. You just get so consumed in that kind of work that it’s almost impossible to think of anything outside of it. Especially family.” And now she helps her current husband with his real estate job.

They came over on the Queen Mary earlier this summer, toured the US and were flying back to London in the morning. I think I might have been the last American she had a full conversation with while she was here.

I asked her what she thought of America, and if she liked it. She said it’s okay to visit, but she could never live here.

Among her dislikes were the food portions “We ordered breakfast yesterday and split a plate… it was enough to feed three! And I looked around, and everyone else was finishing their plate all themselves. But this lentil soup you have, that’s fine.”

And the city layouts. “It’s so spread out. So much wasted space.”

We also talked about what I wanted to do with my life, and where I was headed.

Later her husband texted her saying to head back to the hotel and pull the Rosé out of the fridge. She got up to leave, and said, what is your name? I said Annie. And her face brightened when I said it. “Oh. Annie. What a lovely name. I’m Christine.” I shook her hand.

“Annie, you do everything you can for yourself. You’ve got the world ahead of you. Take it with both hands,” Christine said as she shook her tiny fists in the air.

“You want to write? You need to travel. You need to get experiences. You’re doing it right. You don’t need to know where you’re going, just plunge ahead. You’ll figure it out. Life is so precious. Take it with both hands.”

After Christine left, I read a book and waited for Diana. I had texted her and she had agreed to meet me downtown and go out for a drink together. I was a little nervous because we have not really spoken, much less hung out, in over three months. But when she got there, it was like old times. We talked about Magritte and surrealism, then about language and work, then about Chicago and shows. Wandering back down to the theater district, I indiscreetly slipped off my sweatpants to reveal my “fancy spandex” underneath. Now I was ready for the bars.

We found a little bar called “Monk’s Pub.” Walking in it was medieval themed with swords, bookcases and pictures of dancing monks. We sat by the bookcase and pulls books off the shelf, which came out with nails inside their spines. The books were not for reading.

On every table was a bucket of peanuts with shells, and walking across the pub, you couldn’t even see the floor for all the peanut shells crunching under your feet.

We sat down and ordered a few beers, and then another few beers. And talked about everything. And I remembered why we’ve been friends for so long.

And then the waiter accidentally poured me an extra pint for free and said “Shh.”

And we finished bucket after bucket of peanuts, relishing throwing the shells all over the floor.

Heading home on the train around midnight, we were still talking so much and so loud that I’m sure everyone could hear our, most probably, inappropriate conversations.

Back at home I ate a bunch of Ben’s pitas and passed out immediately.

Chicago Day 5:

My last day in Chicago I woke up and googled “hipster hangouts” in the city.

And came up with the Ukrainian village, and Logan square.

So Ben and I set off to find them.

And the hipster hideouts proved pretty elusive. As hipster hideouts should.

We first felt really good about ourselves: stepping off the El everyone was wearing skinny jeans and riding bikes, tatted up and furnished with an array of piercings. I thought we’d hit the jackpot. In the Ukrainian village we immediately found a really cool local four story bookstore stacked on top of itself. It was a maze- winding corners and stairs hidden behind shelves. I could easily live in that place.

Next we stopped in a record store.

We kept walking down the street, and then realized that hipsterville had ended. Like yesterday.

So we turned around and got back on the El.

Getting off at Logan Square- we walk out of the subway and are greeted by flashing cop cars and armed cops on our left, and our right.

“Which direction you want to go? Toward the righthand cops or the lefthand ones?” Ben asked.

We chose lefthand.

In the end it didn’t matter. Either direction was equally sketchy. Easily one of the most uneasy places I’ve ever been in my life. People yelling and screaming and cops trying to get in the middle of things and sort shit out, with their weapons and hands resting on their hips.

There were a fair amount of flannel shirted, square rim glasses, skinny jeaned and wild haired hipsters sprinkled around the area. If there ever was a mecca for hipsters, this was probably it. Living off the beaten path, along with a good proportion of crime and coffee shops per block.

As we were leaving the streets, this guy is walking behind me. And I’m conscious of him.

And then he’s waiting in line behind me at the ticket line.

And then he’s sitting down next to us waiting in the subway.

And when we get on the subway I take note of the book he’s reading.

And then Ben and I get off downtown, and walk about 30 minutes across the downtown to a coffee shop.

And who do we see three hours later right when we walk out of the cafe? The same guy I took such notice of in Logan Square.

And he makes eye contact with us- and smiles and laughs. And we smile and laugh. And Ben said he had took notice of that guy earlier, too. And Ben even remembered the name of the book the guy was reading.

We realized after walking away we should have just asked the guy to hang out. After seeing so many people that week, I had barely took notice of many. But I had taken notice of him, and Ben had too apparently. And he had noticed us.

I am so tired, I can’t finish writing tonight.

I’m not doing justice to the interactions we had, but it was one of the strangest moments I’ve had in awhile.

Goodnight. xx

After weird chance third encounter with hipster king in downtown Chicago, Ben and I jump on the El to go to a comedy show called the iO. After getting off the train, we realize we have no idea where the iO actually is. We just expect everything to be right in front of us when we get off the tracks.

We wander around for a bit, playing our luck. And laughing at the fact that we are the only people who can still get lost in this gps world. And how bad it would look if we bailed on the others for a second night in a row.

We ended up finding the iO, and were early. We took a walk over the bridge, and took lots of pictures of ourselves in scarves with our outdated digital camera.

Ben said, “people hate us.”

And I agreed.

And we laughed and headed back to the theater, meeting Bella there.

We went in and sat down for the free Harold show, improv done on the audiences recommendations.

We saved seats for Diana and Alex for about 15 minutes, and everyone really started to hate us.

The show was absolutely horrible. Never have I seen such reaching.

I give them credit for being on the stage, but part of being on stage is taking responsibility to get off the stage, I assume.

The most entertaining part was that Ben’s twin was in one of the comedy troupes, just a little taller and thicker. But the exact same humor and deadpan absurdity.

We all looked at each other when this man walked on stage, all thinking the same exact thing. Minds blown.

Ben says he wants to meet him.

After the show we went to get drinks. And, in a very depressing manner, all the bars were closing at around 10:30 at night.

We had to get drinks at a Buffalo Wildwings.

Sitting there, I felt that none of us had actually left Kansas.

While we were drinking, for some reason I realized that I wouldn’t see Ben again for a long time.

“You think this is the last time we’ll see each other til winter?”

“Yes,” interjects Ben, mouth full of fried mushrooms.

“That’s hard,” comments Alex.

And for some reason I just lost it. And fought back tears for the rest of the night.

The walk back to the train was nice. We took a neighborhood route, and passed some busy underground bars.

The next morning I got ready fast, packed and showered and then grabbed Ben to go get bagels and coffee. And then said goodbye to him in tears, and he stood there watching me leave.

Except I didn’t leave. I had to program the gps for St. Louis.

I waved him away through the window and my tears

“You want me to go?”

“It’s going to be a few minutes. This will be really anticlimactic.”

So he walked away as I plugged the gps in. And then I hit the road for St. Louis.

I’ll miss seeing my brother everyday.

But he’s going to pursue his dreams. And so am I.

The drive to St. Louis was really very fast and enjoyable.

When I got there, I sat and talked with Deb and her parents. Her Dad is like a new person, his recovery is absolutely stunning and beautiful.

Deb and I drove downtown and checked out the arch and the Missouri river.

Then we headed to see the hospital where her dad got his lung transplants.

And got some cheeky beers and nachos downtown.

Then we came home and had a wonderful dinner prepared by her mother. So much vegetarian bliss.

We saw a vigil for Michael Brown on the way to pick up groceries later that night.

Then we sat on her couch and looked at old pictures and laughed at old memories for the rest of the night.

The next morning her mom made us fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. Lovely.

We took pictures and then packed the cars.

I didn’t even think about it until we headed out to our cars that we weren’t going to the same place.

The tears started to fall, and I hugged my best friend goodbye for the time being. We have been so lucky this year, and have seen each other seven times in four different cities since we left Lawrence for our post graduation lives.

We drove off, and I thought about life.

About how missing is lucky.

And how I didn’t want my travels to end, because it’s the only time when I really feel like I know what I’m doing in my life.

Got a big decaf coffee for the road, and hit the gas.

Listened to Missouri news on the road. Every station was talking about Michael Brown, and everyone speaking was white. And most of them speaking were focused on defending the police officer. “DUE PROCESS for the law enforcement!” Where was that 18 year old boy’s due process? Not really mentioned.

Stopped off in Colombia, Missouri on my way home. It seemed like Lawrence on steroids.

The trees seemed to consume the road in Missouri, and I could easily imagine I was in a lush rainforest.

Back in Kansas I stopped off in Lawrence.

Not sure what I was looking for, but I was looking for something.

I also wanted to blog, because I knew I would find many ways to distract myself from doing that once I was back home.

So I parked my car and took my bags into Henry’s on 8th. And sat there typing furiously for a few hours- the rain outside giving rhythm to my words and the lonely faces around me giving doubt to my confidence.

There is a reason I left Lawrence. There is a reason I didn’t love my undergraduate years. I felt it all again that evening.

And I’m still feeling it, to some extent.

I’m not in school anymore, though. And I’m much more self confident and aware. The only thing holding me to a life I don’t want is myself.

Don’t be a scared college student forever, Annie. Don’t feel that desire to conform while simultaneously feeling disgust and desperation at seeing the conforming nature of society.

Just write your words and move on to live more of life.

I really need to stop being scared.

I need to stop feeling like I don’t belong anywhere.

I belong everywhere. We all do.

I ended the night eating noodles and drinking soda at the pasta restaurant that I held as the ultimate concept of hollow fraternity and sorority life while in college.

And I enjoyed it.

And then I drove home in the pouring rain. And arrived home to start work in the morning.

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