finding calm in an urban environment

Do you know what it’s like to live someplace that loves you back?

-Danez Smith

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Hi there, and happy fall – although unsurprisingly, Cleveland’s weather would beg to differ. We’re on the brink of October and I can’t go more than a couple of hours without accumulating back sweat from a cardigan, but that hasn’t slowed the rising of Pumpkin Spice products. Apart from the weather, I’m welcoming fall with open arms, and everything associated – warm tones, leaves on the ground, dark lipstick stains on my white coffee lids. My roommate and I went to Target on Monday and perused the dollar section for living room decorations.

I haven’t posted here in a month, which is a result of both writer’s block and busyness. The semester is picking up, much to my chagrin, and even though it hasn’t been evident here, I’ve been doing a lot of writing so far, which I’m happy about.

I’m in a Creative Nonfiction class this semester, and  it’s workshop oriented. My first essay was due last week, and as the deadline crept up on me, I still couldn’t think of a topic. The Sunday before the essay was due, I just threw everything in my Strand tote bag and left my building. I needed to clear my head, and the only way to do it was by means of walking, step by step. I didn’t have a set destination; I like to believe that Cleveland doesn’t have a center – the heart of Cleveland lies within its people. I walked all the way down Euclid, and turned on Superior, and kept going until I felt like turning around. Somewhere, somehow during my walk I realized what I should write about for my essay – walking. At first I thought it would be too vague of a topic, but then I thought about how big of a part it has played in my identity, and how important my own mobility is to me. When I sat down to write the essay, everything just came pouring out of me – I stayed up until 2 in the morning, and even though my eyes were heavy from exhaustion and staring at my laptop screen, I was satisfied. That’s the best feeling that comes with writing – knowing that you’ve created something meaningful – not necessarily for an audience, but for yourself.

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The past couple of weeks have been overwhelming for me, though – and even though it may seem like I have everything under control, I’ve slipped up and made a few mistakes. I’ve mentioned before that one of my biggest flaws is that I love being busy – if I’m not doing something in my free time, I’ll get annoyed with myself. But considering what I’ve been through in the past couple of weeks, I need to slow down. Living in downtown Cleveland isn’t driving me crazy; I’m driving myself crazy.

Take this past Tuesday, for example – I was supposed to cover an event for an on-campus magazine that I write for, and I’ve had this event marked down for a month. I took two buses to the wrong location – this event was at a bar, and I still have a couple of months until I’m old enough to drink, so I sat and ordered a cranberry juice to provide the illusion that I was a sophisticated young professional. Alas, this illusion faded after an hour when I realized I was on the wrong side of Cleveland.  I immediately took an Uber to the right place,  my skin crawling the entire car ride. I was so frustrated with myself for not double-checking the details. I wanted to call it a night so badly, but I sucked it up and walked into the right bar, caught the last few minutes of the event, and conducted a couple of impromptu interviews.

This goes without saying that it’s alright to mess up sometimes, but always take a moment to slow down and make sure you know what you’re doing. Sometimes I get so ahead of myself and while it’s easy for me to laugh at myself and the errors I make, I still need to pace myself.

The start of every semester requires new adjustments, and on top of a new class schedule, I’ve been adjusting to living in an urban environment. I’ve experienced living in close proximity to cities, but never actually lived in one. So far, I’m enjoying it – besides the occasional cacophony of sirens at night. After going to college in fairly remote locations in the past, having a change of scenery is refreshing. Cities can’t belong to people, no, but everyone has their own pair of eyes, a different way of seeing where they live. By living in Cleveland, whether it be suburbs or literally downtown, I’ve acquired a collection of favorite places and I experience new sensations every day.  At times it feels like everything else around me is speeding up, and I feel pressured to keep up and stay on top of everything – but at the end of the day I’m only one person, and there are only so many responsibilities I can take on.

Keeping that in mind, don’t forget about self-care when it comes to organizing your responsibilities. Don’t overwhelm yourself, don’t always feel inclined to say “yes”. Do what makes you feel comfortable, and most importantly, take time to unwind.

I hope you’re all having a great semester so far. I’ll post again soon.

Until next time, with love,

Grace

 

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