Dear Kyle & Chicago Friends

“Hank, you’re the weirdest person I’ve ever met in my life. But…like…in a good way.” Parting words from Emma, one of the two humans that I shared the majority of my Chicago trip with, laying my head down on their pullout couch. I had a lot of fun in Chicago. I did a lot of things in Chicago. I could probably write individual posts for countless happenings that happened while I was there, or I could dump it all into this one thing and not even focus on the events but more the interpersonal relationships. Because that’s what people care about the most obviously. Who wants to hear about an intoxicatingly beautiful Christmas gala that I helped prepare for by spending countless hours decorating and suffering with stools? Who wants to hear about adventures that Kyle and I had or one girl’s obsession with goldfish? Stories of carnal rage two men possess fighting over a stocking cap while I watch idly eating cantaloupe. Those are good stories, those are good tales. Which means you could’ve gone to Chicago and experienced them yourself. It’s like I’m sorry but if you weren’t cool enough to get invited to the Christmas Gala then why would you think that you’re worthy of hearing about it. So no, this is just a story of one boy’s time spent in the snowy, windy city that is Chicago. Consider this a more earnest independent drama than a thrilling summer blockbuster. We may be making less money at the box office, but we’re aiming for one of those gold statues baby. With that said, a huge thank you needs to be said to Kyle. A person I only got to spend time with 2 measly weeks in Peru would extend his living room to me for eight or nine or however many days. I never thought after he left that I would be visiting him years later, hell, I never thought I’d be seeing him in my own city just a few months prior. Also, a big thank you to Emma as well for allowing a stranger she had never met to stay with her as well because I could understand her being wary about someone that Kyle vouched for. Even though I did manage to squeeze in a movie alone while I was there it had nothing to do with Kyle (other than the fact that he was working and still always able to hang out and do activities) and well it was the fact of which I just described in parentheses. That a working man even took off vacation days while I was there just to spend time with me. It could have possibly been a factor that he had to use them before the year ended or else they’d expire but I like to think he would’ve taken off even sick days for us to bond. I’d like to think that and admittedly I am probably wrong. My main point of this post is just to convey the gratitude of being able to visit, to experience Chicago again, to meet new people, and just always have fun. Now that I’m back at university once more my friend group has downsized quite a bit because I’m an older person not experiencing the rigors of college for the first time and I live off campus so I’m not forced to awkwardly socialize and yes, that can get a little lonely from time to time. That I do have plenty of friends who were at Alabama and are still in the state but they don’t live in the same city anymore and that combined with living alone can lead me to directly repeating my prior line of saying I get lonely from time to time. That when combined with an already over thinking and sometimes assuming the worst kinda mind can make you think that you don’t even know how to socialize with people anymore. Then combining all of that with constant Facebook group chats with strangers where you tell them sometimes dark personal secrets that you have no purview admitting to a stranger, it can make things a bit awkward. I’ll be the first to say I have a polarizing personality and that polarizing personality doesn’t even start to exist until you get past the shy, somewhat socially awkward exterior. My point being that regardless of all I just wrote about myself, Kyle kept introducing me to new faces and friends and at the very least I didn’t come across so horribly that they ignored me completely or only treated me with glowering glares. I said it was my hope that by the end of my stay someone would referred to me not only as Kyle’s friend but their own friend and when that happened I almost shed a tear like a Native American watching someone litter. That may be culturally insensitive and I do think that the Washington Redskins should change their name. Or when Kyle’s boyfriend said, “So Hank, when are you moving to Chicago? I feel you just belong here.” For someone that sometimes sings aloud improvised songs to themselves to make sure they spoke that day, it really was truly appreciated that the circle of people I met in Chicago were so warm (even in the cold!) and accepting of a relative newcomer that most had had little to no interaction with. I never once felt excluded, with the exception of hearing about any other story that didn’t occur in the past few days,  and I just felt like I was one of the gang. Which again, may sound completely normal to people that are used to it and yet to someone who’s main friend group only rolls a few deep back where I go to school, it really was a moving experience. Like I did really think, “Oh I can get along with people. Maybe these people will miss me if I leave. Maybe these people will be excited to hear that I’m coming back.” And I’m not writing this to make myself sound unhappy or anything, I’m writing this to express that I met a lot of faces and every person I met I always thought that this a person I want to spend more time with, this is a person I want to learn more about, this is a person I’m interested in knowing. Which speaks to both Kyle and other’s choices in who they surround themself with and the other part of that both comment is some sentence that I can’t think of at this very moment. The people of Chicago are cool folks, Kyle is a super cool folk, everyone I met I hope that I wasn’t too terrible and if you disliked me then I’m glad you didn’t directly say it to my face because that’s a rude way to treat a person unless they kicked an animal and then you should probably more like punch them in the face with a tire iron but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve missed run on sentences. The point is, I’m glad to have met everyone I did, I hope we can all meet again, and yeah…I just had a really great trip and I’m really glad I made this impromptu trip because I bring back memories. And possibly frostbite. So it goes.

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