I was restless, you see. I was itching to leave town. I really wanted this job, but I did not want to be in Minneapolis. I still kick myself over that interview, but I'm forgiving, too; I had something I needed to do. Two months after the interview, I finally accepted that I had to do it now, or risk having my soul digest itself.
Since I moved to Chicago last October, I've done a lot of things that I'd never done before. I wrote sketch comedy and dabbled in improv; I went to dance parties in lofts, and day-tripped to Michigan, and hugged Aidy Bryant; twice I got within smelling distance of a job at The Onion.
But last night, I wanted to know not what has happened to me in the past year, but how my life, as it stands now, has changed from the way it was a year ago. Given a snapshot of then and now, what is different? What is the same?
Here's what I came up with.
Things That Are Different From One Year Ago:
1. I have a nephew.
His name is Caden, and he is objectively adorable. As a result, I have a hopeless case of auntie pride. For the record, I'm aware of what I'm doing. I've been forced to look at photos of babies with whom I have no connection and no shared DNA; I know what it's like. But now that I have photos of my own to share, I really don't care whether you want to see them or not. One moment I'm thinking to myself, Don doesn't really want to see these photos, because he has no emotional or biological attachment to Caden, and the next moment I'm shoving my iPhone in front of Don's face.
"LOOK AT MY NEPHEW."
"LOOK AT HIM."
"ARE YOU SEEING HIM?!"
2. I nanny for a 4-year-old named Kai.
Kai wears fitted tees with shark and dinosaur graphics; he absorbs everything he hears (yesterday he used the word skittish correctly); and he's perfectly capable of blackmail. A scene from last month:
KAI BLACKMAILS MEGAN
(KAI is shaking a sippy cup of milk, fascinated by the way the milk appears to grow as his shaking produces more and more air bubbles.)
KAI(Looking at milk)
It's getting bigger!
MEGANYep, but you're spilling milk everywhere.
(KAI continues to shake sippy cup and MEGAN grabs a paper towel from the kitchen.)
MEGAN(Wiping the floor)
Okay, no more shaking, Kai, you're making a mess.
(KAI ignores MEGAN and continues to shake.)
MEGANKai, please stop doing that.
KAIBut I have to!
MEGANWhy do you have to?
KAIBecause I want to!
MEGANHaving to and wanting to are not the same thing. Now please stop, or I'll have to take your milk away.
No! I'm gonna - I'm gonna say that you said the wrong thing.
MEGANWhat did I say?
KAIYou said stupid.
(MEGAN and KAI stare at each other. Kai resumes his shaking without breaking eye contact with MEGAN. MEGAN says nothing, the coward.)
3. I take an improv class.
I'm nearing the end of my improv run at The Second City. I could continue on to the last two levels of the program, but for now I've had my fill of awkward scene work, delusional/mentally unstable classmates, and teachers who creepily goad us to incorporate lust into our scenes whenever possible (okay, there was only one of those teachers). All that aside, improv has been abundantly valuable to me. It's taught me that stepping out before you are ready is essential to moving life forward.
4. I'm regularly eating flax multibran flakes, soy milk, and those dried cranberries that come in the Trader Joe's Trek Mix.These are things that I was not eating one year ago.
5. I live in a neighborhood with an ice cream truck.
An ice cream truck that I may or may not have actively sought out on a particularly desperate evening. In vain, I might add.
Things That Are The Same As They Were One Year Ago:
1. My preferred way to spend a Friday night.
Really. It hasn't changed a bit, and I have written proof. I have this book called Q&A a Day that asks me a new question every day for a year. Under each question are five separate spaces for five years of answers, so you can see how you answered the same question a year ago, two years ago, etc. I always cover up the previous year's answer until I'm done writing this year's answer, to ensure that my past response has no influence over my present response. This year, when asked for my favorite thing to do on a Friday night, I wrote, "Make a big bowl of pasta, pour a large glass of vinho verde, and settle in for an evening of tailored programming." Then I looked at my response from 2013: "Make angel hair pasta with tomatoes, pour a glass of vinho verde, and plug into an independent or dated film on Netflix." No difference whatsoever, except that I apparently want more pasta and wine this year.
2. My unstoppable predilection for doughnuts, croissants, and ice cream.
I am constantly discovering new bakeries and ice cream shops in Chicago, and frankly, it's a little overwhelming. Sometimes I think that I'll grow weary of these things, or at least one of them, if I eat enough. But no. Nope.
3. I'm still wondering what's next.
A year ago, I was romanticizing being on my own in a big city. Now I'm wistful for more peace and quiet, more lakes, more family. See, these are the kinds of problems you grapple with when you're restless by nature, and white, and priviledged.
Anyway, this was a lot of information. I just shared a whole bunch with you.
To sum up,