The view of the Chicago skyline from the planetarium is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Not just because it is pleasing to the eye, but because it is mine. The sad thing is, I wasn’t even aware of its beauty until I left. I never knew that Chicago had wrapped itself around my heart until it tugged hard when I tried to run away. I was trapped in the Midwest, but it was home and it always will be.
I can’t talk to anyone here about what it feels like you uproot your life and leave all your friends behind, because they have no idea. I can’t marvel over the little things, the small cultural differences, because the people here have known them all their lives and are oh so sick of them by now. Some of my teachers don’t even know I’m new here. Who is this girl, where did she come from? They decide they don’t care and move on while I am ripped in half, spread out in pieces across the country. Kids care a little bit more.
“You’re from Chicago, what’s it like there?”
“Colder. More jazz. A bigger scene.”
No one wants to know about my old life. It’s always moving forward, never stopping to look back on the past. On the sixteen years that made me who I am.
I miss having friends and a life. I miss knowing that if I died, people would care. I miss my scene. I miss the bands, clubs, and sports I was in. There are versions of myself I am definitely not sad to leave behind. Thank god no one here knows what I was like in middle school. No one knows that I used to date That Nerdy Band Guy or used to be obsessed with One Direction or owned multiple Sleeping With Sirens shirts (and wore them to school). But I am an outsider living in an insider’s world. They all know each other and not me. It’s not that I don’t have friends here, but it just takes time to build strong relationships. I just wish time would hurry the fuck up. It sucks being lonely.
The only thing that’s the same is the music. The same musicians play the same shows as they do back home, and for just a moment, I can feel like I’m back in the House of Blues or Bottom Lounge or the Aragon Ballroom. I still have all the same music on my phone and Pete Wentz’s lyrics still mean the same thing on the West Coast as they do in the Midwest. But I don’t have School of Rock anymore, which really sucks. I miss the amazing musicians I was able to befriend through it. I miss being in a tiny room and playing shitty covers and sweating and feeling awesome and leaving with ringing ears. I miss having crushes on gorgeous, dark-haired guitarists who had a tendency to not like me back.
I miss the little suburban bubble that I tried so hard to burst. I miss the girls who made me smile and the boys who made my heart swell. I look forward to the reunions, but can I really just waltz back into your lives so easily?
The kids are the same here, just with slightly different faces. High school’s still bullshit. But I’m the same. I’m the same Midwestern kid who just wants to sit outside the planetarium and stare at the Chicago skyline.