Standing in the corner of the frat party, all I could think about was the hot pink bottom of my floor-length skirt turning brown with mud and beer. A year ago, I would have been scouring the house for a glass of hard alcohol to get my BAC above a point two. Six months ago, I would have been watching my friends snort blue lines of Adderall off the tabletop. This weekend, though, all I could worry about was how much it was going to cost to dry clean my skirt once I got back to Chicago.
I went back to Lehigh for the infamous Lehigh verses Lafayette football game – the most played rivalry in college football (147 meetings to be exact) – the rivalry that landed me in the hospital my senior year. I went back to see my friends, specifically one that spent the last six months on a cruise ship, and walk the tree-lined hills that were my home for three years.
There was a lot of excitement and trepidations surrounding the visit. The day before I left, I was unsure if I wanted to go at all. I had an amazing time in college, some of the best experiences in my life happened on that campus, along with some of the worst. College lasts four years for a reason – to act as a transition for the real world. Graduation is not just about receiving a degree, but about leaving student-life behind and all the drunken drama that came with it.
My best friend Allison posted this on my Facebook wall (my best friend who will be leaving me in a few weeks to study in Turkey and then move with her boyfriend to San Francisco for graduate school at Stanford). It would be funny if it wasn't so true.
I need to move out of my house. Not “it would be nice to move out,” NO, I NEED to move out of my house. There’s one problem, I am completely broke. I have no job, and will soon be drowning in student loans demanding payback. Graduation is supposed to mark the moment when your life begins, so how come I have been more useless in the past month than my entire 22 years of life? I’ve been looking for jobs, full-time writing or editing jobs and part-time hostess and waitress jobs, even unpaid internship (you will be hearing more about that later this week). Most of my efforts fall on deaf ears, and I wonder if being ignored is worse than being rejected.
Last night Twitter informed me there were tornado warnings rapidly spreading through the Chicago area. I could hear the wind picking up outside my window, but wasn’t worried, it was just a warning not a tornado watch. Oh, I was very, very wrong.
I looked out my window and could see the dark outlines of tress swaying back and forth, then I started hearing thumps on the roof from branches falling. First it was just one or two, but then the noises got louder and more frequent. The sky changed from the orange glow of sunset to a deep grey. My 11-year-old chocolate lab, Jazz, was nervously pacing the hallways when the thunder and lightning started. It lit up the sky and those same outlines of the trees were swaying more violently than before. Sill not concerned, I returned to see more warnings on Twitter about the severe weather. My brother ran to my doorway after another clap of thunder shook the house. As I told him to calm down because it was just another storm, I saw an orange flash in the corner of my eye.
“Did you see that?” I asked him. He just stared past me, eyes fixed out the window, and hands clinging to the door frame.
We both gazed outside to see a flash of light brighten the sky, the trees hit the electrical wires igniting another explosion of orange sparks. Then everything went black. The house was black, the street was black, and apparently over 200,000 other Chicago residents lives went black.