Raged Harder

Posted on 1 min read 67 views

I’m in my hometown again to visit my grandmother. She continues to have slipped further away every time that I return. Her pride has remained though; she fought and raged against this world harder than anyone I have ever met, and that continues even now. I admire, empathize, and am repelled by the way she approached this life. Ninety-six years, however you get there, is an accomplishment.

Most of this last year with her has been in the rest home. Even here her pride refuses to let her eat with the other residents, and yet she remains cheerful and funny with the nurses. She swings wildly between an uncompromised attitude toward life, and a resigned attitude towards death. For someone who has told me for so long that she wants to die, has expected to die, she is on a fundamental level a survivor. This however is coming to an end. Even I can see it and feel it. Someday soon her prediction will be proven right, but she will have been wrong for so many years, that she’ll remain the most fucked up role model I will ever know in my life. And I will love her forever as a kindred spirit.

ROA

Posted on 2 min read 64 views

When I was 15 I saw the movie The Rules of Attraction. Incomplete and meandering, it’s an easy movie to hate. And yet it held me like no other movie before. It was for me, the most revolutionary thing I had ever seen, and so in that sense it accomplished everything that it set out to do. Where other movies were escapism from reality, this was a promise of a future to come.

I still vividly remember the basement I sat in when I watched the movie, and the looks of revolt on my friends’ faces at the debasing crisscrossing storylines. I once heard the director say it ‘was a movie about college, if you had a terrible college experience’. But I didn’t see it that way. In the darkness of the story, there was freedom, and an escape from the relentlessly boring and cruel small town life I had never been able to comprehend. I was a good kid, but the world wasn’t, and I couldn’t make sense of it. This brand of relentless darkness offered an alternative, it made it all seem humorous and absurd. After it finished, I quietly told myself that I would find that life.

The promise of the future became more important as the years went on, and my life became more desperate. ‘Just wait for college,’ became the rallying cry to get out of bed in the mornings, to not break apart in the middle of the day, sometimes it was the only thing that kept me upright. And when I visualized college, I visualized The Rules of Attraction.

And like most things in life that I dreamt about enough, wanted enough, it eventually came true. But of course, not without it’s costs. Those are costs that are easily ignored in the desperation of youth and loneliness, but are still very real, and paid for in their own ways.

The Blue Line

Posted on 2 min read 60 views

As I’m watching the de-icing of jets on the Frankfurt airport tarmac, wrapped in a music playlist I put together a lifetime ago in Madrid, a strange realization comes over me: I don’t have a desire to live in Chicago again. I love that city so much. But in this moment, my time there feels complete.

The soft spot will remain, but I’ve carried around the regret of not choosing to move back there when returning to the US for years, possibly for as long as I’ve lived in Colorado. The beauty and grime that mix in the most uncontrived way possible has always captivated me. The other great American cities are actually great city-states, unique cultures in their own right. But Chicago, more than any other city, represents the good and bad of America: the friendly welcoming nature, excitement, opportunity, modern beauty, and livability, while also contributing the violence, wealth disparity, obesity, isolation, and god-fearing weather, that I’ve come to associate with the country where I was born.

Chicago is unmistakably American. And so it’s strange that here of all places, in this clean and sterile German airport, that my thoughts have returned to the Second City. Chicago felt comfortable in a way that few places ever will. I’ve wanted to relive my life in Wicker Park and Logan Square: slowly crawling down the blue line from The Whistler, Rainbo Room, Big Star, Violet Hour, until finally, inevitably, ending at Empty Bottle. But I’m not that man anymore, and I’m ready to feel that connection with someplace new.