I am at college. Finally, I have made it. Evanston, Illinois, does not feel like home, but I am happy to be somewhere that feels strange, new, different. The fall weather is less harsh than I have been led to believe, and I put on a sweatshirt and go outside with my portable CD player and walk to the lake. I lie down on a rock, out of sight of the path, and stare at the sky as clouds move swiftly from west to east.
Waves crash on the rocks, splattering the one just beneath my perch. I feel tension — will the next wave be higher, will it wash over my rock and drench me or drag me out to my death? Will it spray me with water, a warning to move before I am caught? — but I enjoy the uncertainty as I blast music in my ears, and yes, it is Rush. I enjoy it, I soar with it. “We are young / Wandering the face of the Earth / Wondering what our dreams might be worth / Knowing that we’re only immortal / for a limited time…” I am cheezy. I don’t care. I feel alive.
I go to parties every weekend. I have never had this much freedom. Freedom to dance with drunken frat boys, to climb fire escapes into strangers’ windows and sit talking with them for hours, to walk the lakefill at 3 a.m. and then go back to the dorm where the boy I have a crush on plays his guitar for us.
Freedom to take the El into Chicago, attend concerts alone, then wait on the platform by myself at midnight, hoping vagrants steer clear of my perch until the train comes. To walk through the streets of Evanston alone, at 1 in the morning, deserted, dangerous. I am stupid. Why do I do this? The best answer I can come up with is that I need to know I am alive, I am free, a risk-taker, touched by luck. I test myself. I test fate. And nothing ever happens to me.
I am a complete idiot.