My second summer in New York is fast approaching. Because I’m only a few years out of college, I have yet to abandon the mindset that time passes in school years. I’m nearing the end of my junior year of life… I’d say that after I get to the end of senior year I’ll gain a sense of direction and feel like I’m going somewhere, but I took an extra year in college, so I’ll probably take an extra year in life.
Either way, I get all introspective at the end of Spring and the feeling is particularly acute as my last day of working at the flower company is June 6… it feels just like I’m ramping up for Summer break. The feelings of fear, excitement and confusion aren’t dissimilar from the way I felt ages 18 to 20. I think one of the reasons I see the connection between these two stages of life is because during that period my only major goal was to move to New York and live with my best friends, Nina and Austin.
Austin’s been asking me to write the story of how we achieved the outlandish pipe dreams we had in our late teens, and I’ve been promising to do so for months. I sort of don’t know where to start, because life has taken so many twists and turns from the first time 18 year-old Nina and I stared up at the brick building in Soho and hatched a plan to share a loft.
I think I have to start with Rome. No, not the one in Italy.
Ohhhhh yeahhhh. Rome, Georgia bitches.
Location: Northwest Georgia, only a handful of miles from the Alabama and Tennessee border and even closer to the Coosa Valley paper mill that gives the people of Coosa birth defects and the rivers of Rome the delightful smell of diluted skunk – all seven of them.
Fun Fact: Rome has the most churches per capita, per square mile (don’t freak out, Wheaton IL, we added in the per square mile part since you technically win). Most of them are Southern Baptists, who will tell you all the others are just Satanists masquerading as a church in order to mislead people into a cult they like to call Presbyterianism.
As I’ve mentioned before, when I was 18 I was about as intelligent as a lobotomy patient still under anesthesia, and I was 100% positive that I was going to become a famous singer-songwriter… like Jewel, but with the hotness of Britney Spears. I applied only to conservatory programs for Opera music, which I was terrible at, and was promptly rejected from all of them except a school in Rome… Shorter College. I was a really good student, so had I applied to any school for academics I would have likely gotten in, but again, as I was stupid, the only school I applied using a purely academic application was Harvard, where I was wait-listed and then rejected. I’d assume schools like Harvard only have a wait-list so people like me can be all “NO REALLY… I WAS SMART ONCE, I PROMISE,” because seriously… who’s going to say “Got into Harvard, I don’t really know if I want to go there.”
In August of 2004, off I went to Shorter College in Rome, GA while Nina moved to New York, Hibben to DC and all my classmates to reputable schools that are not currently the center of a national controversy.
As it turns out, ending up there was a real shot of luck. I’ve had many moments where I’ve shaken my fist at Harvard, my teenage brain, and all the other random things that caused me to end up in rural Georgia… but it’s in those times that I think of Austin. I’m fairly certain that no amount of liberal arts classes could have impacted me in the way our friendship has.
In what I hope to be many future posts, I’m going to tell you the story of how I shed my Baptist faith, got drunk off of Everclear in someone’s mama’s backyard and bonded with a school janitor about a rabid opossum… oh yeah, and how I ended up living here just like I promised my journal I’d do at 18.