i drove back to chicago last week to do an interview and goddamn that shit felt weird. not the interview, that was dope, despite the fact that i described my personal style as "fat ninja" and ordered 1/3 of the food i would actually eat in case it's one of those interviews where the writer goes super in-depth into the mannerisms of the subject. you know what i mean? like when you read a vanity fair piece about emma stone and they describe exactly how much almond milk she puts in her extra-hot coffee, like down to the motherfucking ounce. this is not to compare my hulking, mouthbreathing self to emma stone, mind you, it's just that i am an excruciatingly self-conscious person who will die upon reading "irby lumbered slowly into the restaurant, eyes darting nervously behind oversized black sunglasses as she surveyed the space for enemies, then squashed her bulk into a booth to order the first sixteen things on the appetizer menu." LOL FUCK THAT. i can promise you as long as i live that my secret fat shame will stay right where it belongs: hovered over the trash can searching for a food item thrown away in haste that i couldn't stop thinking about for several hours.
man i hate talking to people in person. first of all: WHAT THE FUCK DO I KNOW. not much! i'm not actually 100% sure about anything! i once did a book talk and this dude i knew i shouldn't have called on stood up and quoted my own words back to me and i was just standing there flummoxed like "wait did i actually write that." i made him pull out his copy of MEATY and hand it to me and then played it off on some "lol if i wrote it i guess i meant it" type shit, why o why am i still interacting with human fucking beings!? but this seemed like a good opportunity to end up in the mailboxes of the childhood homes of all of my friends, so i decided to make a trip of it and rent something called a "compact suv" so i wouldn't risk anyone busting out a window to steal one of the many pairs of crocs i keep in my real car and so i could go 90 on the highway without worrying that the muffler was going to fall off. i haven't rented a car in a while, but apparently at enterprise now they get in the car with you to make sure that everything is to your liking? so this poor fucking kid trevor and i go out to the car lot and he has to sit there while i squint at and fuck with all the knobs and buttons to connect the bluetooth and raise the steering wheel and at one point i raised the seatback from chaise lounge to high chair and he exclaimed "my mom drives just like that!" and if the insurance they made me buy would have covered it i would have murdered him.
first thing on my agenda? the mcdonald's drive-thru. i wasn't even three blocks away from our house before i was like THANK GOD I CAN GET SOME NUGGETS FOR THE CAR. the thing about living with a healthy person is that, even if they never come right out and scold you for your choices, it always feels like there is judgment inherent in theirs. liiiiiiike it is mavis's natural inclination to order an undressed kale salad at lunch and while i support that i will never understand it, especially if there are also chicken wings on the menu. i have never been hungry for a salad. i will eat a salad, especially if that's all there is, but i have never thought to myself "you know what would be fire? chopping up that old radicchio wilting at the bottom of the fridge and throwing some radishes and cold green beans on it then squeezing a lemon wedge over the top and letting that be the only thing i eat for the rest of the night." NO, THANK YOU. as an idea that's fine or whatever but as a person with a yawning emotional void that can only be filled with snacks i'm gonna need that lettuce to have a cheeseburger on top of it.
okay so the weird part: how long does it take for you to feel like a stranger in the place you moved away from? i am neither smart or reflective enough to tackle an in-depth analysis of my own experience, and maybe it's because both the pace and the location of my life have changed, but the second i hit traffic coming off the skyway onto lake shore drive i was like "coming back to this overcrowded, disgusting nightmare was a mistake." i was in detroit a couple weeks ago, and i'm not trying to sound like some wide-eyed brooklyn hipster who moved his artisanal biscuit company to corktown and can't shut up about how he's revitalizing the city or whatever but: detroit is almost as fancy as chicago but with, like, 1/3 the population and cars. which means that you can get all of the tiny overpriced foods the part of you that knows you're into that shit desires, without having to wait in an interminably long line for it after you've circled the block 137 times looking for a parking space.
donald trump says "chicago" and i'm like don't you dare talk about our city! but let's be for real, I'M FROM EVANSTON. and i lived in chicago, i know where not to party and which streets your car will get towed from, but i've been gone for a minute and yooooooo i might not need to ever go back. i can't deal with traffic anymore. or people. or pretty much anything that takes longer than five minutes and doesn't move its mindlessly texting ass out of the way. i thought i was committed to being a city person but i've been in both new york and los angeles for work (LOL) over the past few months and rather than being like "hooray! look at all of the expensive juice options laid before me!" i've instead found myself thinking "shit, have there always been this many people on earth?" i thought moving away for good was gonna be hard but let me tell you something fucking amazing: mavis and i went to a 4:05 showing of get out the other day and we left the crib at 3:50 and didn't miss a single preview. ARE YOU SHITTING ME. i would've left chicago twenty years ago if i'd known that never again would have to hover in the freezing doorway waiting for a dinner reservation.
don't get me wrong, there are things i miss:
-all night delivery
-amazon prime delivery
-cat litter delivery
-some of my friends (kind of)
i mean chicago is great and there's nowhere in my new home to get a quality hot dog (they don't use celery salt or sport peppers here man what the fuck) but in seven months i've realized that ordering fancy coffee that takes a week to get to my house is better than waiting in line for that same fancy coffee while worrying that someone is gonna snag that table by the window i want as mallory (i think?) lovingly steams some guy's foam for seven real minutes (probably) and the lady next to him tries to decide whether or not to tip because everyone behind her in line can see the total on the ipad she's checking out on. (this is a real thing that happened last monday afternoon at the la colombe in andersonville and i tipped 25% on a latte because everyone was watching me brooke can back me up if you need proof.) anyway my point, if i ever had one, is that my conversion from city mouse to country mouse took approximately three days. i thought i was going to hate it and be crying every day and miss having good stores fifteen minutes away, but girl i'm wearing a gap sweater right now and i got it on the damn internet. same with these headphones. and my shoes. i'm reading the vegetarian (i hate it) for my irl book club downloaded on a kindle. i mean, what do i even really need the city for. WHAT IS EVEN A STORE.
i was almost sad about how absolutely not sad i was to watch the gross, dirty diaper-filled lake get smaller and smaller in my rearview after i filled my rental tank with gas that cost $2.89 a gallon and put on my driving mix (it's basically a bunch of super smooth male r&b like carl thomas interspersed with ~alternative rock~ i listened to in high school) and hit the road with a trunk full of oily bari subs because i haven't yet found an italian delicatessen in michigan with a comparable prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich, but as soon i was going west on the empty highway making a mental note of every single casino concert i would definitely buy tickets to (kem at the four winds with two drinks and a seafood buffet? sign me and your mom the fuck up!) advertised on passing billboards i was like NAH NOT SAD.
i don't miss:
-sitting awake in a frothing rage because the people upstairs won't shut the fuck up
-getting everything delivered to my job because motherfuckers steal
-your racist uncle's unprovoked uber sermons
-conversely: THE TRAIN
-so many other people trying to eat at longman
-honking car horns
-that pile of unidentifiable liquid waste on the bus seat next to mine
-the three week wait to get into the doctor for some shit that's hurting right now
-crowds of people who just walk in front of your car downtown because fuck you
-awkwardly navigating the sidewalk with dudes on skateboards
-nightly news that involves actual crime
-waiting in line for things
-paying rent on a studio apartment that is double my current mortgage
okay fine, i love complaining about things and pointing out when something is horrifying. so i guess i do kind of miss being mad all the time? but rest assured that eventually the veneer of tolerance i've constructed for all these trees and grass and weather will get chipped away and i'll start rolling my eyes at every chipmunk who has the nerve to scurry across the deck, because home is where the hatred is.