A few weeks ago I spent a grand total of 42.5 hours commuting via Greyhound/Amtrak (so nearly two full days of becoming quasi friends with the person sitting next to me without ever learning their name and regretting not owning a travel pillow). But to be honest, it wasn’t that bad. I had TONS of books— I felt like Henry Bemis from The Twilight Zone, you know… the guy with glasses thicker than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent. I got the chance to finish Susie Steiner’s novel, Missing, Presumed, from which I took away two things: 1) Steiner masters the art of 3rd person present tense narration (something I struggle with and try to avoid as much as possible). Plus her seamless connections between character perspectives gives a unique richness 2) Despite loving British crime TV because I’d watch anything with David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch, I don’t like the plot progression of British crime novels. I felt like I was constantly yearning for more action, so by the time a break in the case occurred, it was too little, too late for me.
On the way back, I was also able to read Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Like Khaled Hosseini’s novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, it’s a heavy read. For goodness sakes, it starts off from the perspective of Anjum, a transgender Indian woman who lives in a cemetery! But also like Hosseini, Roy creates a mosaic of hauntingly beautiful characters that intertwine in a organic way. It’s a striking book that you can’t put down, but also have to take your time to digest everything. And I’m definitely putting her first novel on my to-read list. Since I’m a John Green junkie, neither of these books would normally be on my reading list, but they provided a striking (and well needed) change of pace from the psychology studies and music theory textbooks I’d been cramming for the past few months.
Leaving Northwestern at the end of my second year, I was anxious throughout the entire campus. From the crumbling couches in our student center to the lake-facing practice rooms, everything around me was a war zone of regret, pain, and fatigue. But those fears seemed to melt away over the weekend. It wasn’t even a goal of mine, but when I arrived to Chicago safely with my luggage (and neck) still intact, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was able to re-enjoy the experiences that greeted me when I first arrived at a first year student: mistakenly referring to Lake Michigan as “the ocean” because its size; strolling down Michigan Ave in desperate pursuit of dessert; staying in for a night watching Netflix while dozing off to the pouring summer rain. And being with my boyfriend was definitely a highlight, after both of us having crazy sophomore years. From splitting Halo Top ice-cream to experiencing the world’s craziest uber drivers, he makes everyday we’re together magical.
It was a fresh start.
Not only with the city I fell in love with, but also the man I’ve come to adore.