Do you ever find yourself completely, completely utterly alone at the only hipster-ish (emphasis on the -ish) coffee shop you could find in the new town in the new state where you impulsively took a summer law school internship because you want to feel alive and be reminded of the times when you were living abroad and you were young and interesting, but mostly, you can't stand to be in the empty room you're renting for the summer at a party school off-campus apartment building (where you're accidentally living with three college-aged boys) a second longer after you could physically feel your hair graying when the engineering major told you he's nineteen (19) years old, so you drive around time aimlessly until you remember the coffee shop that was recommended to you, and then at the sparsely attended, tiny coffee shop, you realize you actually recognize the girl on the first date in the corner because she's one of the five people you know the name of at your new office, so you don't want to seem creepy by eavesdropping, so you just start typing like you're busy and important ((I mean, you actually do have busy and important things to do but what? You're gonna be productive IN THIS ECONOMY?! As if.)) and anyway, that's where you find yourself in life?
It seems to be always just me.
I jump into these things feet first ((which is, ironically, never how I jump into a pool. I sacrifice everyone else first to ensure the water is not unbearable and then I sit on the ledge, because everyone knows that's the best place to gossip about anything and nothing)). I fall into experiences how I think other people fall in love- unexpected if not secretly anticipatory, holding back while being completely authentic, until I decide, yes, yes I do in fact love __*insert one of the following*___.
*Fountain County, Indiana
I had pictured this summer more than I actually planned it: I'd take my dog in my stuffed car, windows down, Kasey Musgraves blasting. We'd get here (and by here, I think I was thinking Ann Arbor tbh) and à la New Girl, three college boys ( who I was really picturing just to be three versions of my beloved 22 year old brother Keegan) would unload my car, while they vaped and taught me TikTok trends and kept me young (they in fact never leave their rooms). Then I would go to the office where I'd do systemic legal advocacy in immigration law (the only part of the fantasy that's real- hurray!) before grabbing a margarita and sitting by a lake somewhere after work. I wouldn't pay for a single thing; I'd go on a series of hilarious and meaningless and completely safe dates with varying, bumbling, completely safe men who would convince me that I am the love of my own dumb life (turns out all Midwest men are trash) ((plugging the @shameonyouIndymen here)). And then I'd get to read, and write, and recharge, and go back to 3L year and the bar completely refreshed and energized. Maybe I'd knowewhat kind of law I'd want to do. Maybe I'd meet a zaddy with a vineyard and I'd trap him and take his money, and never work again in my life.
But this time, it feels different. Maybe Kalamazoo is just Indiana. Maybe anywhere you go, there you are.
But then again, why? Why can't I keep hurling myself out of my own box, a box I now realize I never made for myself, or fit in, or accepted as enough. Why can't I make Kalamazoo work? Who is limiting me? If it's just the fact that the city is small and my apartment is shitty- well, I've endured way worse. If I genuinely enjoyed my time working in a rural courthouse straight out of Parks & Rec, I can like Kalamazoo. If I could heat up water on a stove top in Romania to have a warm shower every now and then, then I can live with three boy ghosts. If it's just because there's nothing to do, then I'll just drive around to cafés and accidentally crash dates of vague acquaintances.
And look at that, I just talked myself right back into making this summer work. Because that's my secret power.
I can commit to The Bit™.
Through sheer positivity, an arched eyebrow, no money but a lot of motivation, the power of Voice Notes documenting my mundane adventures, I can do it. I can manifest charming stories out of my Gen Z boys. I can make friends, if just with the really nice lady at the Qdoba who complimented my overalls. I can keep throwing myself out in the world, hoping it catches me, knowing it'll never be like... amazing, but it will be okay. I can make it as long as I keep my eyes open for the tiny moments of startling, beautiful humanity. I can be my own happiness.
I am Madeline, post-appendix surgery, whispering over and over, I can do anything.
I began writing this to say, sorry, guys I'll have nothing to write about. No story, nothing to see here.
But give it a second. Who knows?