Our theme for the month of March is “Part Two.” Writers were challenged to choose a piece they’ve previously contributed to the post calvin and revisit it, perhaps writing a sequel or reflecting on how things have changed.
Caitlin’s original post is “Postscript.”
I hope you are enjoying life in Chicago, even though I know you aren’t. You spend as much time out of that hellhole as possible. In fact, by the time this is over and you’re back with your heart in Milwaukee, you will have spent no longer than five consecutive days in Illinois for over three months.
This has been what you’ve needed: to keep moving; to hold your friends close and your family closer; to spend hours on trains, planes, and buses listening to Jim Dale read the whole Harry Potter series. Eventually, this frantic pinballing all over the country will exhaust you. You will wish, in August, that you’d given yourself a little longer to recover before launching into your new job, new apartment, new life.
Nothing will feel totally new, though. You know these streets, and the drive to your mom’s from your new house is only fifteen minutes on a good day. Few friends remain in Milwaukee, but that’s okay—you’ll make more. You’ll cherish the space to breathe. Your house will have books in every room. You will bike to the farmer’s market on a September morning to eat tamales out of a crinkly foil packet while sitting on a grassy hillock by your favorite lake. It will smell like sunshine and there will be puppies and babies everywhere; it will feel like magic.
Since you were “taken” between eighteen and twenty-two, singleness at twenty-three will feel foreign and curious. The confidence kicking at your ribs today will bloom in Milwaukee. You will love the freedom of singleness. While you’ll have no interest in making space in your life for a man, you’ll still be drawn to the idea of meeting new people. Casual dating will be your new frontier. You’ll be excited about this until the precise moment that you start swiping and realize that ninety percent of men are either creepy or boring, and the other ten percent won’t seem to be on Tinder.
But, for another week, you’ll keep swiping. You won’t know why, and then you’ll meet him.
Jesse will be your second Tinder date, and your last. You’ll shake his hand outside of the Camp Bar in Shorewood, and you’ll both order whiskey old fashioned sours. Five hours later, you will have talked about everything that matters. Somehow, you’ll both love if on a winter’s night a traveler. Somehow, you’ll both have a Finnish great-grandparent. Somehow, you’ll both have lived in southern Georgia in 1996 while your fathers were in the Navy. You’ll have your first kiss (or ten) with him in a parking garage next to Walgreens and it will be the most romantic moment of your life. I won’t spoil it for you, but the night will end well.
All of the days, nights, and evenings you spend with him will end well, and they’ll keep ending well for the remaining five months until you catch up to me. You’ll love him more with every movie night and Trader Joe’s run. You’ll eat a lot of salad, and you’ll never not be excited to see each other. It will all be very wholesome. Everything that follows from here will surprise us both.
Your sister will graduate from college and move back to Milwaukee, and your mom will finally get the puppy that she and your brother have been dreaming about for years. Your parents will separate, but Christmas will not be painful or awkward. You’ll be grateful for this. You’ll be grateful for everything.
Goodness and mercy shall follow you, dear friend. I can’t wait for you to feel it, too. Until next time, with love,
P.S. Did I mention that you’ll get to date an English teacher?
P.P.S. Oh, you’ll also get a tattoo of Lake Michigan.
P.P.P.S. You’ll throw out the letters. The shoebox, too.