Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home is Where the Heart is, Actually Though

I've learned a lot in the past week.

My brother and I made a mad dash home to say good-bye to my grandfather in the last few days of his life.  He is the first major death I have experienced in my family.  I'm not going to write much about it here, because that's the type of essay that I would write over a week, and then edit for another eight.  But you can read his obituary here, if you're interested: Ken Patterson.

The one thing I will say, is that I told my family my vision of "heaven" or what's above and waiting for us.  For the past few years, I have genuinely pictured the afterlife to be a series of TedTalks.  There'd be tons of lectures and demonstrations: hear Newton talk about his theories in Cloud Conference Room 3! Amelia Earhart revels what really happened! A painting demonstration with Picasso!  And at 12, Martin Luther King Jr. performs "I Have a Dream" for your viewing pleasure!  My grandfather growing up on an farm in Iowa, I picture him discussing with John Deere what made his tractor so damn good.  

Going home, even for such a reason, was overall comforting.  It was nice to be with my family.  It was amazing how quickly I fell back into the habits of home with the five of us there.  Group Bananagrams before bed, cheese sticks before lunch, and group hugs when the time called for it.  Yes, we do that.  And I visited Northwestern while I was home as well, it's hard to ignore the boyfriend waiting in the town 40 minutes away.

I am a little ashamed to admit how quickly I had forgotten about those achey Illinois summers.  And I've spent 19 years in them: spending 30 hours a week at the wave pool as a kid, spending 35 hours a week on the blacktop in marching band, and then two years of 40 hours of kid-wrangling a week until I got to LA.

(If you've got 10 minutes, you should check out what intense marching band is all about:
and if you don't have 10 minutes, just start at 3:48.  Prospect Marching Knights, Shall We Dance Marching Band was easily one of the two best things I did in high school.  The other was speech.  Anyway!  )

But just four weeks in the lovely Los Angeles and I had forgotten what a difference 20 degrees, and 80% humidity really is.  Back at Northwestern, Michael and I walked to meet up with other friends living in a soon-to-be-condemned frat house, clouds of bugs clung to each lamppost, and we could only hold hands for a few seconds before we decided it just wasn't worth it.

Then after a few short days, I returned back to L.A.  I slept on both flights back here.  I keep starting to write the word "home" and then erasing it and replacing it with "L.A" and "Here" and I'm not sure why, because that's the whole point of this blogpost.  I think that feeling of independence people describe when they get at study abroad, or move anywhere new, or go to college even, is the further self-development of home being self-contained.  I don't have to reject one Mt. Prospect or Evanston or L.A. to embrace the others.

No doubt, it can feel strange, a little sneaky even, gallivanting from one place to the other and sinking right back into the habits established there without thought to the other two places, but I think it's essential to do more than "get by" in any new place we find ourselves.  Every run I go on, every yogurt store Katie drags me to, every new highway that catches me in traffic, L.A. and I infuse one another with something more to hold on to.  I feel like a modern day cartographer, mapping memories onto this state so I can one day return and not have to start from scratch again.

And returning was like starting new.  I've got two new internships, so that brings me up to 3, and I've learned a ton from all of them.  Although I'll have to make a much more comprehensive list at the end of the summer, one thing that I've learned is that you have to shamelessly use the web for self-promotion and interaction.  Therefore, I am (trying not to be shameful! aaahh hard) announcing myself fully caught up. You can now find me on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, LinkedIn pinterest, stumbleupon and a blog.  I guess the next step is a YouTube channel.  Sigh.

You may ask: Laura? Why all of this need for social media?  Because! If I want to be an actress/singer/song-writer/stand-up/novelist/blogger/rapper/sell-out-pop-star/fashion designer/cartoonist/feminist activist/founder of my own school

 ....well, I've got a lot of networking to do.

Love Always,



  1. This was beautiful. And exactly what I needed to read today. Sometimes your writing leaves me breathless. I love you. That's pretty much all I have to say.

  2. Juli!!! this is so sweet....especially because of that one sentence you wrote....
    "It's not the millions of breaths that matter, but the ones that get caught on the way out."
    Argh I'm butchering your sentence...please fix for me.

  3. Julie and I were thrilled to see you although the circumstances were not ideal. I'm glad you got to see Jacob and meet new cousin Lily. Love your writing style and listening to your thoughts.
    love, Aunt Lo

    1. Thanks Aunt Lois, and Julie! I'm glad you liked it :-)

  4. I'm so glad I got to see you when you were here. You're actually on the phone with me and Dylan right now. This is amazing, your writing is phenomenal. Love you and I may take up your version of the afterlife :).