Journal Entry 9 – A New Living Space

01.21.22 – 12:43 pm

Five months ago, I sat atop a building in downtown Chicago, gleefully writing a journal entry. I had spent the day exploring a delightful city, one I planned to live in for four weeks. I had no idea what the future held, nor if I would return to Chicago after those four weeks ended. But the rush of freedom, novelty, and excitement was hard to contain. The world was at my fingertips.

After forming strong bonds with several other young artists in the city, I decided to spend an additional six weeks in Chicago. I wrote very little during those weeks, but I did keep a list of all my adventures. It was such an absurdly eventful and enjoyable time, and I did not want to forget a single moment. My friends and I maneuvered through the city, rode the L train, drank lots of boba tea, shopped in all sorts of stores, watched a number of films, had quite a few game nights, saw Will Smith on his book tour, helped each other with art projects, traded foods for Thanksgiving, exchanged gifts for Christmas, went rock climbing three times a week, walked through Millenium Park at night, ate too much banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, and basked under the thousands of holiday lights.

Throughout these joyful adventures, we grew closer by sharing our hardships and triumphs in life. We got to know each other more honestly. I will not divulge any of my friends’ experiences, but I was in a particularly vulnerable place after losing Flurry, my pet hedgehog. She was a sweet, funny, and calming presence in my home for three years, and I was genuinely close to her. Losing a loved one, be it a person or animal, tends to put me in a state of pondering mortality. It is not a depressed state, or even a negative one. But reminders of the fragility and unpredictability of our lives tend to stir up some emotions.

I spoke about these feelings with my friend Renata, who is always interested in existential conversations about life, death, and all that lies in between. She provided great insights and comfort, but at a certain point, I felt I was burdening her. I told her something along the lines of “For the record, I’ve been in a weird place recently. I’m not always this vocal about my emotions.” To which she responded “And if you always were, what would be wrong with that?” This outlook on vulnerability seems to be shared by the majority of my friend group. They accept and encourage honest feelings. Someone can make a heavy statement about their mental health, or a moment of trauma in their life, and there is no space for judgement. We discuss as long as we need, and then carry on with our activities.

There is nothing wrong with surface relationships; I enjoy my time with friends who only care to discuss movies or current events. But I have to surround myself with emotionally mature people. Thoughtful, creative, and kind individuals from all walks of life. People capable of deep conversation, but also meaningless merriment! I feel inspired amongst those sorts of people. Which is the reason I now sit in my own Chicago apartment, on the 46th floor of the very building I stayed in last August. I’m looking out at a city that once filled me with excitement of endless possibilities, and now exudes warmth from the rich memories I’ve made all across town.

I have decorated my living space with artwork, collectibles, creative tools, books, games, and more. I am ecstatic to spend hundreds of days and nights in this place, and thrilled for my friends to visit and make new memories in these rooms. And I certainly cannot wait for my girlfriend, parents, hometown best friends, and various other loved ones to come see this place for themselves.

But on a completely personal note, I am excited for my independent growth here in this apartment. I plan to improve my mental well being, work schedule, digital addiction, eating habits, and all other aspects of my life while living here. I have set goals for myself which I will steadily work toward, without unhealthy pressure. Aside from my travels in the last quarter of 2020, this is my first time truly living on my own, without sharing a space with anyone else. And I plan to use this independence to benefit my life in profound ways.

I have the privilege of waking up each day and gazing upon a vast city and gorgeous lake from any window in my apartment. The natural light fills me with inspiration, and the views of Chicago make me feel as though I’m surrounded by a kingdom of creativity and adventure. In moments such as these, I can feel my inner child sprinting around the room with uncontainable joy, unable to believe he has his own living space, where he can write, draw, imagine, and explore all he pleases. What a gift.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.