Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Year in Review

Early August may seem like a strange time of year to publish a 'year in review' piece, but it seems appropriate considering the distinct circumstances. It has been over a year since I've technically been in the 'real world'. The novelty of being a college graduate is waning, my freshmen year in the real world has nearly passed, and I am on the brink of my sophomore year. The sophomore year will be one of distinction, with a very real beginning and end: if you haven't heard yet, I will be moving to Jiaozuo, Henan, China on August 25th, and I will be there for ten months, an entire school year, teaching English. Therefore, it seems like this blog may soon be subtitled something like "an American in China", but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm still deciding whether I want that to dominate the blog's theme, and put up pictures, etc., or do that by other means.

So, with such a definitive end to my freshmen year in the real world fast approaching, I thought this an appropriate time to touch on a few memories that have defined the past year for me. As my friend Xander told me bluntly about the first year out of college, "it is a strange time of life," and I feel I don't need to ask anyone else currently living it for their thoughts, because chances are they will agree.

The short of it is, this past year I never had much of a job, and I never had much aspiration for one either. I lived alone for a while, which I've never done before, and then I moved home to live with my folks again, something I really didn't want to do, but it didn't go too poorly, I must admit. I got to visit Seoul, South Korea, and I'm thankful for that, as well as kept up with some good friends, and made some new ones. But enough summary, I'll just get to the memories. Before I start, to make sure we're absolutely on the same page, the following recounts are not meant to efficiently recap an entire year's activity, but are simply some more sentimental moments that stick out to me to this day. In the end, they hold the feeling of the year.

Living alone. By mid August 2008 I was living alone in a studio apartment in Hyde Park. I had more than a month left as a sub-letter paying rent, which I had to set aside nearly all my money to pay for. I had no job, and hardly any money to spend on things other than rent. I didn't have many connections left in Hyde Park, either, and the few people that I knew there seemed to be a keeping low profiles that didn't usually include calling me. Most people had skipped town, or at least it felt that way. The streets were mostly full of strangers in the place that was once my familiar home. Maybe that goes to show you that home is really just where the people you love are. Anyway, I had no internet connection, and would wake up whenever I really cared to, shower, eat something small, and then go to Crerar where I would pretend to look for jobs while mostly surfing the internet for hours. The only money I had was the fives and tens I would get from doing psych studies and going to the decision research lab in the business school. I would take the money and try to stretch it as far as I could at Hyde Park produce, across the street from my apartment. I could have asked my parents for money and they would have gladly given it, but for some reason, I chose not to. The truth is, I was quite happy with things that way, and I'm not sure why. Life was peaceful and serene, and I tried to enjoy the palpable calm before the next necessary chapter in my life began. That, and the one person I got to see most often was Richard Fetchik, who was in similar circumstances like myself (if you know Richard, this is a real treat, because he's often hard to pin down). I'll never forget a quiet evening walk him and I once took from my apartment to his during a cool night in late September. We passed Obama's house, guarded well by countless police and barricades, and admired how lovely we thought 50th Street could be. I cherished Hyde Park.

Election night. This night is an obvious choice for the year in review, but its meaning is still something I'm grasping. Being a registered Obama supporter, I was privy to some tickets, and went with some friends, namely Hal Connick. It was a long night of standing, walking, waiting, going through security checkpoints, and watching Wolf Blitzer on a giant jumbotron give us the results. But I'll never forget the moment we heard Pennsylvania would go blue, and I'll never forget saying "yes we can" along with Barack during his acceptance speech. I really, really don't want to make things political on this blog; I would rather discuss countless other things, but I have one message for partisan naysayers of that night: if you think we overreacted that night to our candidate winning, than I probably won't be able to convince you otherwise; Obama is human, not free from criticism, and will no doubt make some choices that I don't agree with. But if you mock the fact that we rejoiced in being part of history, in participating in the democratic process, and in once again being proud of our president and feeling trust in him, than you can go to Hell.

One cold night. One thing I certainly did a lot this year was crash on my friends Seth and Tiffany's couch. I remember distinctly the first time I did it. It was around Christmas time, and I had taken the train into the city. I wanted to walk around Michigan Avenue and look at the lights, but on my way there, I decided it was too damn cold, so I immediately took the el up to their neighborhood and hung out for a while. I believe it was a Sunday, and I had only a part time job that didn't seem to be getting many hours at the time, and didn't have to wake up Monday morning to go to work. At the time, Seth worked from home, so the two of us went out for beers at about 11pm on an absolutely freezing night in December. I think I remember it so vividly because it was a damn strange time to be out. And we stayed there till the bar closed at 1 or 2am, I believe. I generally feel really cool in those situations, being a night owl, being out when no one else is, like most times I'm out doing anything on a Sunday night. When we were finished with a couple rounds the crisp, Chicago winter air filled our lungs as we walked back to Seth's with a buzz. I slept peacefully on the fold out couch that was surprisingly warm and comfortable.

I don't usually do this, this is just what I have so far and will return to it later. I'm fucking tired and want to go to bed. If you're intrigued thus far, take heed: there is more to come from the mind of Darian.

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