Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peering back 15 years...

Found this old picture of me tonight.  It was from back when I lived in Chicago, had my hair spiky, wore huge jeans that didn't fit me, a chain wallet, and this flannel jacket which I surely stole from someone...  

I moved out there to go to college at Colombia College.  Was all of 17 when they accepted me into the fiction writing program there.  I didn't really know what that meant, at the time.  I didn't end up going, because of transcript issues, but did live there, and spent most of my time writing.

I hated having a roommate, and trying to learn how to navigate a new place.  Being on my own, being truly responsible for the first time ever.  Being distant from all my really good friends, and being alone.  Really alone, for the first time in my young life.  

Yeah, I had a roommate, but we were mostly just living companions, and while I am grateful to have had her, at the time I would have said something different, I'm sure.  We drove each other crazy, fought a lot, and tried to rule each other's lives, all things told.  And when I ended up moving home for various reasons, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Looking back, I wouldn't trade the time for anything.  I miss the city.  I miss walking by the lake at night, even the part where I almost was arrested for being near people I wasn't actually WITH.  I miss the time to just sit and work without interruption.  Riding the EL, even working at Target.  Heck, I saw David Bowie on the street one night, and that was pretty awesome, even though all I could remember of him at the time was his role in Labyrinth.

They were my first months away from home, away from everything close and safe, and I was tossed in the deep end, left to flounder.  Left to find my own way.  And I did.  I made friends and had a blast, ate lots of great vegetarian food, and learned some valuable life lessons.  Like, if you get the power shut off when you don't live there anymore and there was milk in the fridge?  It will stink.  Yep.  Good to know.

But most of all, in my time there in the windy city where my doors were snowed shut once or twice, I learned I can stand on my own two feet.  I can go places by myself.  I don't need someone else's permission to do what feels 'right'.  And I learned I really can sit down and write something.  Every single day.

I still have my old Brother World Processor.  I actually do have plans to copy over the work I did while I lived there.  There was a good story started.  I didn't know where it was going yet, but it has the feel of something real, and these older wiser hands would love to have a crack at it.

Anyway, don't discount your younger years.  Your first years starting out.  Even if, in the moment, you hate it?  You will look back fondly.  I would give anything to go back there and have a second chance.  To go to school at Colombia.  To learn how wonderful it is to write in a group setting.  To stand on my own feet, and drink too much coffee, and get lost on the trains again.

In the end, all the moments we have, the good, the bad, the ugly and terrible...  they are what grow us into the people we are to become.  I'm not saying be happy about it...  but allow yourself to feed from it.  Grow, learn, discover.  And see just what it is you really are capable of.

You might just surprise yourself.


  1. Wonderful post Becca! Also, that is totally awesome that you saw David Bowie, and also that you knew him from Labyrinth :)


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