(Not so) Little Girl Moves to Big City

blah blah blah blah blah.

I’ll cut you the shit about pre-college jitters, a stressful move in day, first classes, and long, long series of anxiety attacks.

Through it all (and I’m sure other college freshman can relate) hell yeah mom, I made it. To week three.

I’ve learned quite a bit here at “art school”: every class requires a hell of a lot of writing, if you’re walking down a dorm hallway and hear obnoxious singing-it’s just a musical theater major rehearsing, never walk alone in the city at night, fashion design majors and fashion business majors are completely different and if you confuse them they will be disappointed, people hang out in each other’s rooms just to see who has the best view (and the 15th floor definitely does), Grant Park is beautiful for a picnic (if, according to my roommate, you want to watch homeless people have sex in plain sight), eighty percent of the student population spends their grocery money on cigarettes, don’t go two streets over or you’ll be in the gang-inhabitated south side, “partying” is really just an opportunity to channel “artistic inspiration”, e-mails from your department will flood your inbox on the daily, checking the weather app is essential because Chicago drops from 75 to 50 in just a few short hours, never carry your entire wallet with you because you will probably get mugged, the Chicago Theater is the most glamorous thing yet it still advertises Joan Rivers’ show long after she died, going to the gym is suddenly “cool”, arrive half an hour early to campus yoga if you want a decent spot, judge everyone by the artistic decoration of their dorm room, ex cetera. ex cetera. ex cetera.

Most importantly, what I’ve learned is the value of being surrounded by a student body who doesn’t pursue a secondary education because they want to, but rather because they have to. Because without polishing their art form, they physically, emotionally, and spiritually cannot function or be their whole selves. Here, education is not a stepping stone to a profitable adult life. Here, education is purely and simply the beauty of “living what you love.” This is for students who don’t complain about projects or homework, they become excited at the opportunity to photograph or write or dance or act or sing or broadcast or manufacture or manage or script or illustrate or design or just simply be. This is for minds who function differently. For those who defy social norms and publish college albums on Facebook titled something that isn’t a pun of their sorority/fraternity’s name or something along the lines of getting wasted. Yes, that is literally the shit I sacrificed when I chose my college. This was the cop out; this was the risk. (Um, not to say art kids never do those college kid things, okay? We just don’t do them on game days. Like, I don’t even think we have school colors or a mascot. )

But we all make sacrifices. We all take risks. You each have yours; this was mine. I’m finally here and hoping that this manifests into an experience and place where things happen for me. One can really only hope for some level of success after working their ass off, right?

I wrote this for one of my classes and thought I would post, since it alludes to my final days at home through the narrative/visual of a beach day. I was always “wishing” for things in my life to stay constant: family, friends, security, fun, all that is good in a moment. But I always “was not.” I wanted, and still do want, danger, risk, twists, turns: a reality that is bigger than what I currently perceive. This is the first creative writing piece I have posted on here that isn’t sarcastic and in my natural voice (there’s a time and place for all that, homies) but I do hope it’ll resonate a bit. I’m starting this journey to shape my craft and find out how far I can take it, but don’t let this trial of elegance fool you, I still favor everything sassy and humorous.

SATURDAY

"I am wishing for a day of half-melted ice cream cones and sandy shoes left on front porches. I also am not.

Where I am from, people listen to birdcalls more attentively than their neighbor’s native tongue. Their skin is sprinkled with sunlight instead of experience. Their strides match the crashing waves rather than their own individual paces.

Ft. Lauderdale is a school of fish refusing to part for intruding sharks.

A family plays beach volleyball and I watch them from my place in the sand. I remove one ear bud so that their laughter fuses with my music. As I take off my sunglasses, the sun dances on the horizon. I do not want to forget what it looks like.

I am wishing for a month of seashells whose holes are perfect for necklace making. I also curse them.

I wonder if the man parasailing has ever seen Chicago. The woman running past me is not ashamed to be wearing a one-piece swimsuit. She doesn’t notice other women in bikinis and avoids making eye contact when sprinting past me. Feet to sand, soul to earth.

I am wishing for hats that shade the eyes from rays that are too sensitive. I also fear them.

I adjust my halter-top carefully so that I don’t flash a group of boys from my former high school. They are drinking beer from a cooler with no ice. They do not notice me.

I am wishing for lifetime of aloe that eases sunburns. I also am not.

When the sun sets, everyone leaves for home. I leave for the city.”

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Happy college-ing, everyone. I’m going to make a grilled cheese and giggle at my roomate’s TV pilot.

Posted by Shelby Curran on Wednesday 15 October 2014