Hey, it's been ages (read: about two weeks) since I've posted anything here because obviously I AM VERY IMPORTANT AND HAVE LOTS OF THINGS TO DO (read: I am very lazy). But I have at least been working on a few pieces for my favorite online magazine, Rookie. I realize that probably sounds more important/fancy than it is. They're not actually publishing what I'm sending them.. yet. Soooo... I thought I'd start a series on this blog to ensure that at least SOMEONE reads the pieces that I worked so hard on (read: that I worked slightly hard on). That series is called Rookie Rejections. And without further ado, here's the first.
Piece and collage by yours truly.
Why Hating your Town Might Actually be a Good Thing and other Half-Truths:
Strictly speaking, my home town kind of sucks. Or really, it’s about a six on the “How-Much-Does-Your Town-Suck” scale. This obviously, is a very real, very scientific, thing. What I mean is, I can think of worse places to live really easily: North Korea, the underworld, NILBOG IN TROLL 2. But it’s certainly not the best place I can think of either: most metropolitan cities, a chocolate town populated entirely by cats, or a Sofia Coppola movie (Maybe like The Virgin Suicides… But without the death). My town’s got a few things going for it: a couple vintage shops, super tall trees, and really, really good weed. (Not that that’s necessarily a good thing. DON’T SMOKE WEED KIDS IT WILL KILL YOUR BRAIN OR SOMETHING.) On the other hand, our claim to fame is that Guy Fieri grew up here. Seriously. I mean, yeah, every town has their own Li’l Sebastian. But really, Li’l Sebastian doesn’t have frosted tips, wear ridiculously pointless armbands, or SCREAM AT YOU FOR NO REASON. Living in a small town can be pretty suffocating. Living in an isolated town can be incredibly frustrating. Living in a small, isolated town can be the absolute pits. Basically, you get to hating wherever you grew up, small, isolated, or otherwise, in fairly quick order.
Honestly though, if Ghost World or this conversation between Hazel and Tavi are any indication, anyone who grew up anywhere has felt this town hatred. At some point in pretty much everyone’s lives, you just want to get away from your parents, house, town, even your friends. Truth is, you can get bored with your life. You shouldn’t, because I mean how rad is being alive? But you do. The landscape gets old and YES THE GRASS GETS LESS GREEN. It can get to the point where you’re seething in HATRED at nothing in particular except that you JUST WANT TO LEAVE. Which compounds on the non-geographically related teen angst and pretty soon you’re just a big ball of anger and wanderlust. Sometimes you accidentally gorge on things that are familiar, and pretty soon you’re Violet in Willy Wonka after she tries that complete-meal gum, you find yourself rolling around on the floor, blue and full to bursting.
This is where life differs from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This whole, angsty blueberry-fication forces the issue and makes you realize that sometimes you just gotta leave. And that definitely doesn’t have to be a, “fuck this noise I’m OUTTA here”, kind of leaving. I’m not asking you to Thelma & Louise it and throw you and your best friend and your car off a cliff (really, please stay away from cliffs). Basically, this necessity for leaving is called MOTIVATION. Motivation to get out and do something awesome. Combat boredom with FUN and ADVENTURE.
See where I’m going with this? You just have to leave enough to be stretched and wrung out. Then you can return home, slightly taller, slightly wiser, and otherwise no worse for the wear. Hating your town can actually make you see more of the world. Even if that “more” is just a couple of blocks from your house. Any place pretty and different with plenty of room and time for dreaming, playing MASH, or eating sour worms is PERFECT. Really. Just a place to decompress. To de-blueberry.
The world is actually a really, really cool place. With really, really cool people, even the creeps, losers, and the weirdos. If you were perfectly happy where you are right now at this very moment, maybe you wouldn’t be bored. If you weren’t bored, maybe you’d never discover that awesome little tree-shrouded place in the park or meet that super-cool old woman with that amazing consignment shop. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S AROUND YOU. But discontent and ennui might make you look. If you hate where you live, it sucks for a little bit, but it’s just so much MORE motivation to see MORE and MORE, during teenagerdom and outside of it. (I honestly think if I didn’t hate where I lived so much, I’d never have applied to NYU. And now, WHAT UP 212?)
For those strange people (that may or may not exist) that happen to love where they live, a note: You’re not missing out. You get to totally love where you live now. You probably still love exploring. So you’re good.
BUT. If even after your local exploring, you’re STILL not happy, (which honestly, if that’s the case you may just have to look harder) real, honest to goodness traveling can be really great too. It can be cathartic. Or self-revelatory. It can make you feel really small or really connected or really alienated or really lucky. You can SEE PLACES. And LEARN THINGS. Not just about yourself but about other people. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU. Traveling is basically broccoli. Except way better. Traveling also has the added bonus of: excuses to eat horrible gas station quickie mart fare like Bugles and Nesquik, stays at possibly haunted hotels, seeing BEAUTIFUL things, and probably most importantly, getting the hell away from where ever it is you live.
Another great thing about traveling/exploring/leaving your paradigm for a second? It’s not permanent. Which means yeah, you have to go back home. BUT HEY. WHAT IF, WHEN COMING BACK, YOU DECIDE TO LOOK AT YOUR HOME TOWN THE WAY YOU LOOKED AT ALL THE NEW PLACES? Then, those few vintage stores can turn into gem-filled wonderlands and those “pretty tall trees” can become complete and total magical giants. Maybe even Guy Fieri isn’t so bad anymore. The point is, leaving for a bit makes you come back with new, Leslie Knope tinted glasses.
LOOK. Totally enjoy your high school, maladjusted suburban-addled youth. Try try try to embrace your town’s Li’l Sebastians. You will probably hate it anyway, But that’s completely okay. Read this guide, by Sady. Don’t be a blueberry. Decompress by seeing as much as you can of whatever you can. THEN FLY FREE CHILDREN. Happier, smarter, wiser, and all that jazz.