Yesterday’s story about quitting a restaurant job in the name of making no money in the name of art reminded me of other tales, all from my early twenties. I did not sleep well. Thinking back on my early days in Chicago, I am filled with a 2:1 ratio of compassion and chagrin: I love the girl who moved to a major city alone, knowing no one, having only a vague idea of what she was going to do once she arrived; I wince when I think of what bar she thought was cool and which lampshade she chose to wear on her head while she hung out there. Youth is wasted on the young — and youth was wasted last night, too.
I moved to Chicago before smartphones. In black and white, here, right now, I am officially “dating myself,” which is something that until this moment, other people older than me did. Well, here we go: I’m dating myself, but I remember what it was like to move to a new city and not have a magical electronic map in my pocket that talked to me. I had a foldout thing I got for graduation, a wing, and a prayer. Just one wing? When has one wing ever worked?
I did not know my way around the city. At all. And I didn’t know anyone, either. I got off the Brown Line train at Wellington a couple days after I had gotten my apartment. The Wellington Brown Line station is on Wellington Street of course. But my apartment was twenty-six blocks west of that station. All I knew was that I lived on Wellington St., so I was like, “Oh. Okay. Well, I don’t know where I am but I live on Wellington, so I’ll just call this one good.” I got off the train. And I walked twenty-six blocks. I realized I was really far away from where I needed to be, but I was on Wellington and the numbers were going up, so I just kept going. I couldn’t spend money on a cab. I didn’t know the bus lines. If I had had a smartphone, that never would’ve happened. Because GPS is watching.
I’d like to say, “And I’m glad I didn’t have a smartphone! That was good for me, that horrible, hot, summer day in Chicago, walking miles and miles.” But it wasn’t good for me. It was bad. I was sad, lost, and alone. There’s no other way to say it. It took so long.
The image above conveys perfectly my disorientation that day. The word “Wellington” always reminds me of “Paddington,” as in Paddington Bear. After seeing WikiCommons’ offerings for the Wellington El stop, I searched for images of Paddington Bear. Nothing good there either, so I went for “Wellington boots.” This image of a Japanese theme park came up on that page. That is actual Japanese in the caption. I have no idea what it says.
My point is that thirty-six is is better than twenty-two; thirty-six with a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is better still. I will try not to be twenty-two in tomorrow’s post.