The grass is greener where I am now
Kate Casper | Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Today, I want to be anywhere but here. Specifically, I want to be in Annapolis, Maryland, rolling around with friends on some grassy hill outside of the State House, discussing John Locke’s social compact over ice cream. The grass is soft and lush, and the sun is tucked behind a few trees, casting spiky shadows over our bodies.
We browse the used book selection at Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse where I buy a memoir and a lemonade. When my friends and I part ways, we chirp, “love you,” with the utmost sincerity.
I return to a beautiful balcony that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s just me and the bay alone together. I’m mesmerized by the figures below, and the complexity of their lives I might never fully understand. The preppy boys on boats on their way to Thomas Point to fish, the couple chatting on the balcony a few floors below me, the children chasing birds on the marina, the most free they’ll ever be.
And I listen to a street performer sing Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” And I write lousy poetry in a black moleskin that I’ll eventually lose. And I watch the sky fade from pink to orange to a rich navy, as night sweeps over the city.
This memory is part fact, part fiction, but I want so badly for it to be real. In actuality, I’m sitting in my dorm room in Breen-Phillips Hall thinking about all the places I’d rather be. And while I love the ambiance of our bulb lights, the pitter-patter of the rain in the background and the foliage from our window, among other things, I long for that balcony in Annapolis. And I long for a lot of things.
Often, I long for my hometown, Alexandria, Virginia. I’m whipping around the high school parking lot with friends, blasting music and reminiscing about former teachers and classmates. We go to Uptowner Cafe in Old Town, and I order my egg-and-cheese on a bagel and a chai tea latte, and we sit in comfy vintage chairs, the blenders and coffee machines harmonizing with the classical music in the background. We leave and say our goodbyes to the owner, then wander down to the waterfront to gaze out at the glimmering expanse.
I swear, that city is mine. From the bottom of King Street, you can see the entire world — the Capitol in the distance, the glittering Woodrow Wilson bridge and the Ferris wheel. And I turn around and look back at the centerpiece of our town, the Masonic Temple, the place we all took homecoming pictures and watched sunrises and talked with friends for hours in the middle of the night.
And as we leave Old Town and drive back west, I stick my hand out the window, feeling the crisp, cool air strike my palm. And I think of all the wishes of my youth, all the things I wanted so badly, but now have.
Sometimes, I long for Georgetown, after a 9:30 a.m. Mass. I’m buying soda and candy at Wisemiller’s, dumping change in the tip jar, hearing the jingle of bells above the door as I leave. I stroll, floating past ex-politicians and socialites and children scampering off to CCD in their Sunday best.
As I walk along the jagged brick, I admire painted townhouses and dorms where my parents lived when they were in college. I walk past the buildings where my mom taught night classes and the bar where college boys bought me Shirley Temples. And I walk past the hospital where I was born. I’m convinced my entire story could be told in this place.
I go to the church garden and find the brick engraved with my papa’s name, and I sit, wondering if God is even real, but really really hoping so. I’m grinning, thinking about silly church crushes and the priest who knew my Uncle John.
My Uncle John loved Notre Dame.
I admit, sometimes, I don’t feel I belong here. Sometimes, I fantasize about what my life would’ve looked like if I had chosen something different, but sometimes, I am so certain this place was always meant for me.
I think I know, deep down, my entire life led me here. I think I know that all the places that feel like home didn’t always feel like home. Learning to love Annapolis and Alexandria and Georgetown took time too.
I know I’m not alone when I say that it can be hard to love Notre Dame sometimes, but I really do believe the grass is greener here, where I am right now. The grass is greener here because I am here, in this present moment.
Someday, I know I will bottle my moments over the next two years and carry them with me, just like I do with my other special places. Someday, I will call upon the times I smiled at a stranger on a walk to DeBart or made friends with a girl in the Southwest Salad line. Someday, I will call upon the time I danced in front of the Golden Dome in the rain listening to Grizzly Bear or went sledding in Narnia behind Holy Cross with my friends.
Someday, I will indulge in the moment I’m living right now.
Kate Casper (aka, Casper, Underdog or Jasmine) is from Northern Virginia, currently residing in Breen-Phillips Hall. She strives to be the best waste of your time. You can contact her at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.