Glasses Thicker than an Airplane Window

I’m turning back to this blog for a few reasons. No one wants to read a novel-length Instagram post. Often I catch myself typing full sentences into my phone screen keypad and think “this is too much, I'm oversharing." So I edit the text to be more concise, but it feels cramped. In the end I ditch the whole paragraph for a few hashtags. I don't like how I've trained myself to erase what I really want to say. I don't know when or how I learned it.  I want to break the habit I have of saying “I used to be a painter” or “I wanted to be a writer” when in fact I am both.

December 2015
I’m at a jewelry store in Belle Vernon with my mom. She brought in three rings to be fixed. They used to be my grandmother’s rings. While we’re there, I ask to get the silver one I wear on my pinkie finger reshaped. It had lost it's roundness. It used to be my mom’s. She also wore it on her pinkie. I used to take it off of her finger when I was a kid and we were in church. I'd marvel at the dent in her skin it left behind. I don’t know when she gave it to me or if I just took it one day when I realized she wasn’t wearing it anymore and put it in my jewelry box. I had it with me when I lived in Pittsburgh that summer. I put it on then to remind myself I’m going to get through this. I can finish this seemingly insurmountable project. 

I did finish the project but I kept wearing the ring. Now it’s being being gently hammered back into shape and I get a phone call from Chicago. We talk for a few minutes about the process of switching from a Master of Design program to a Master of Fine Arts program. I don’t know if I’m misremembering but in this dream-memory I’m wearing my highschool letterman jacket. The words 'cross country' fully spelled out across my back. They barely fit. I feel funny, both humorous and uncomfortable. I just made a life-changing decision in a strip mall in a tiny Pennsylvania town. I think the moment should feel sophisticated or special. But it just feels funny. I rejoin my mom and we continue Christmas shopping. I think about the work ahead. I think about the rings.

December 2018
Fear of flying and not wanting to fly are different things. I’m wearing the knit poinsettia sweater. I’m not wearing the pinkie ring. Instead, I’m wearing two of the rings that were fixed that day in Belle Vernon. I wear one on the middle finger of my left hand. The other on my right ring finger. They only ever meant something to me and so I wear them both.
The first time I flew to Chicago I cried silently. I got vertigo. A stranger next to me offered me gum. He told me he was flying back from meeting his fiancée's family. He recommended I download the CTA app. I knew if decided to move to Chicago I better get used to flying. I guess I did.
2018 was the year I flew the most. I don't know about other people, but I consider four round trip flights in one year a lot. I decide I don’t want to make a habit out of it. Strangely, I mourn the loss of the fear. I think about the fourteen year old Swedish girl who skipped school to protest climate change, "I don't eat meat, I don't fly..." She was on the news when I visited my grandmother at the nursing home. My grandmother never flew on a plane in her life and I'm guessing at 94, she never will.

I travel to new paces like I’m dipping my toe in a deep lake of saltless water. Illinois.
It’s too cold, I recoil. 
I try again, the cold water hits my ankle. Louisiana. 
Back out again.
This time I get used to it just below my knees. Maryland. 
I'll wade here awhile. 
Florida. The water is up to my stomach. I think it’s nice, no need to go further.
I’m dry again and look out. Ok, I'm gonna do it. I run full speed. Nebraska.
Finally, I’m up to my neck. 
Maybe one day I’ll make it cross country. Fully submerged. California.

I am very grateful for those creative individuals whom I have spent the greater part of 2018 surrounded by. In particular, my childhood friends, my roommates, and my partner who have reminded me of how I used to be before I moved to Chicago; boundlessly inspired and not afraid to make mistakes. In a rigorous attempt to focus during grad school, that part of me suffered. I told myself I was putting certain things, like writing, on the back burner but what I really felt was that I had given up on them or that I replaced them with instant gratification social media posts. This is an attempt to revive what I put aside.