Grudge Match

When listing skills on my resume of life, one thing I’ve always had is the ability to hold a grudge. Trust me, if you were ever mean to me or even just short with me, I’ve got it filed away. Color-coded, alphabetized, locked in the vault and probably labeled with “fuck that bitch” in big bold letters. Probably in Gotham Black at 24 point size. I’ve held grudges against people, against time periods, against cities and even against myself. I’ve held onto things from when I was ten years old and one thing I know for certain is this: carrying around a grudge can lead to some serious back problems.

When I moved to the city, I moved here for my three best friends. Maybe I was trying too hard to fit us into a little gay Sex And The City mold, but I was devastated when the first of them moved away to teach in Thailand. One night at dinner he just casually dropped it in our laps. Like it was something that commonly happened. “I’m going to the grocery store.” “I’m giving up carbs.” “I’m moving to Thailand.” And then he was gone. Poof. I didn’t talk to him for the first three months he was there. I was angry that he just left without at least mentioning it was something he was thinking of doing. He came back after nine months, went out to California and never came back again. I felt destroyed all over again. He’d left me twice and didn’t look back.

Another friend started dating someone and instantly moved in with him. He stopped being the friend I knew. He had changed and I was determined to believe that it was for the worse. It was like I blinked and he just went on growing into a different person while I was stuck in the same place spinning my wheels because no one told me how to really live life. How dare he leave me without direction?! What good is being Carrie Bradshaw when there’s no Miranda Hobbs by your side? He had ruined my perfect television life and I wasn’t gonna let him get away with it. The problem though, is that I tend less to actually air my grievances than to just sit and wallow in them.

Other people came and went. Girlfriends were especially hard. Fact: there is no other demographic of people who will drop a gay BFF faster than a straight girl who just got married. It’s like, “Bye, Felicia.” Except guess what. You’re the Felicia.

I’ve flown into faux jealous rages over guys who I didn’t even want to date in the first place got caught making out with randoms in the bar. In true dramatic fashion, I’ve ceremoniously burned gifts, manuscripts and memories over a grudge I was convinced was deserved. I’ve stink-eyed my way through every single bar in this god-forsaken town. I’ve deleted more Facebook friends through clenched teeth and squinty eyes than I’d care to admit. I’ve stormed out of enough parties to make storming out of parties “my thing.” And all it’s gotten me is a reputation for being a world-class asshole.

tumblr_n9c0fnan8x1s7zen1o1_500A wise woman once told me that you don’t have to walk around with all that baggage. It’s a lot easier to stick it all in a locker and take the key rather than lug everything around with you. When it comes to the shit from your past, no one’s luggage looks like this season’s Louis Vuitton, so it’s best to just let it go Adele Dazeem style. Splattered all around Chicago, you can find the word “FORGIVE” painted on sidewalks or random curbs. The “FORGIVE YOURSELF” ones are harder to find – maybe because that tends to be the hardest grudge to give up. The one you have with yourself. All that crap you did or didn’t do. All the shit you’ve talked about someone else. The times you’ve let someone else down. The times you’ve let yourself down. Let it go.

The point is, a grudge is really only keeping you from moving forward with your own life. What’s the point of being weighed down because some dickhead shoved past you in a crowded bar or because one of your friends needed to make a change in their life that didn’t include you. Everyone is just trying to get to where they need to be and nine times out of ten they’re not trying to hurt you – even if they’re not being totally careful with your feelings. Move on with your life. Believe me, it’s really fucking difficult, but it tends to get easier the more you do it. Who wants to be laying on their death bed blabbering on and on about all the people that pissed them off?

Throw your shoulders back and let the grudges fall off. You’ll walk a little taller, you’ll look at things a little differently and you’ll be a lot happier.

Coming of Age

A year ago, I set out to fall in love with a city. I laid out a plan to immerse myself in Chicago. To really find out if I and it had what it takes to make a life together. Goals to visit parts of the city I’d never been to, intentions to drink less and see old friends more. Turns out that plan didn’t really work for me, and things ended up getting a lot worse before they got better.

I moved to Chicago because I had exhausted all my options everywhere else I’d lived. I grew up in Ohio, then followed my mom to Kenosha, Wisconsin after I failed out of college in my second year. You actually have to go to class when you’re in college I guess. I moved in with a roommate for a year and then moved up to Milwaukee once she realized I was a terrible roommate. I moved into a place of my own three months later after realizing that the girls I was living with then were the terrible roommates. I lost a bit of my soul to retail. I gained a little of it back by working at a non-profit. I moved to Chicago because my friends were here. I toiled away in shitty salon job after shitty salon job before finally deciding to go back to school and get my degree in graphic design. My friends moved away. I was left here. I’m still here.

I laid out the plan to embrace my life. But I was really laying out a plan to embrace a life; any life. I’d shuffled along for so long and I was finally starting to admit to myself that I didn’t see anything better. That I felt completely lost. Lost and living in a city that doesn’t exactly help you when you’re feeling lost.

It turns out what I really needed to do to start the process was start letting go of a bunch of bullshit. It’s a strange feeling when you wake up one morning and you’re in the thirties and you’re wondering what the hell happened to put you where you are. It’s an even stranger feeling to wake up like that year after year. And even stranger yet when you really take the time to examine exactly what your role was in bringing you to that point. I thought that trying to fall in love with my city would be the answer. I thought that once I really loved where I lived and got that feeling that so many other Chicagoans have that everything would finally fall into place and I’d be a shiny, happy person that everyone wanted to be around and would call to go to fucking brunch on Sunday mornings and we’d gab about our great weekends and just generally be awesome. I thought I’d be awesome. Instead, I was just a drunk. And all those years of inaction had actually lead me to where I was.

I started going to therapy. I realized that it wasn’t going to matter where I lived as long as I was still carrying around all the crap that I’d been carrying around. I started making actual goals. I started getting over my feelings of abandonment and betrayal. I started finding things that I liked to do and places I liked to go.

I started to feel less lost.

Which brings us back here a year later. Laying out a new plan for this endeavor. No bullet-pointed blueprints. No numbered quick-fixes. Just life and a greater attempt to live it.

I Got My Pride

The Pride Parade here in Chicago has always been one of my favorite events of the entire year. It’s really any kind of display of community celebration that really gets me going, but Pride is an especially fantastic time. I also like fireworks, but that’s neither here nor there.

This year, someone had the idea to split Pride up between two weekends – Pridefest was last weekend and the Pride Parade is this coming Sunday. I don’t exactly know the reason for the split, but I have a feeling it had something to do with the bars being able to make double the income from two huge gay weekends. A good friend of mine that I met in school owns a tee shirt company geared towards the ladies who love ladies and I worked her booth at Pridefest this past weekend. It was a great chance to be at the fest while still being apart from it, and after two days of hocking tee shirts to lesbians, I was BEAT. I’m a little sad that I ended up missing all the entertainment because I heard Deborah Cox and Neon Hitch were amazing, but a boy can’t be all places at once. It also provided a nice opportunity to experience the fest while still having a space to sit down and relax and breathe between onslaughts of rabid lesbians trying to get their novelty tee fix. Plus, being able to people watch from the sidelines at Pridefest offers an interesting vantage point. Only at a gay street festival is only wearing mesh underwear considered acceptable attire. You just can’t get away with that shit at Ribfest, y’know?

Simply put, I’ve always liked the parade because it makes me happy. Easy as that. It’s a time to celebrate, and with this week’s historic overturn of DOMA, gay people everywhere have even more reason to celebrate. But for me, the parade goes deeper than just gay pride. It goes to just having pride period. Being happy with who I am and excited about the places my life is going. It’s easy to get annoyed with the crowds and all the drunk assholes, but at Pride I try to look past all of that. So far this year I haven’t really been able to do that with much of my life. Pride seems like a good place to work all that shit out.

I had a date last night with a kid I met at the fest and we went to a CS Magazine party at a furniture studio in River North. A nice little cocktail open house with champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Then we went to Boarding Room for a martini before saying goodnight. Instead of just hopping on the train and heading home, I walked down State Street and just took in the city like I haven’t done in a really long time. And for the first time in a really long time I didn’t feel like I was fighting with Chicago and I really did own a piece of it. A small little corner of it was mine. The air had this charge that I used to feel when I first moved here. Maybe last night I felt like so many other people do when they talk about their affinity towards this city.

So whether you make it to the parade or not this weekend, take a minute to take inventory of yourself and where you’re at and find a little space that you’re proud of and celebrate it. And maybe dig out a pair of mesh underwear and strut your stuff like you were meant to.