Twenty years from now

Somewhere in Indiana I will discover myself, I hope.

On Tuesday, I entered my twentieth year of life. There is so much life I have already lived. So much time spent laughing and crying and crying some more. Where do I see myself twenty years from now?

Hopefully, I am far away from my haunting past and bad decisions, but I doubt I will be. Where does anyone see themselves twenty years from now? Worst case scenario, still in the Midwest. Best case scenario, also, still in the Midwest. I think a house with a fireplace would be nice. Somewhere to sit and read my books and drink my tea. I may own a cat or two, depending on how large that said house is. I would most of all want for it to be a home, filled with people I love and who love me.

It’s not fair to try to predict where my future leads though, so I won’t be picky on specifics, like kids names, or professions. All of it will be a product of moving forward. Each day now brings a new part of myself I didn’t know existed, a little part of myself who I am beginning to acknowledge.  Especially these days I wish I could meet myself as a child, the blunt bangs and spunky attitude combined with big dreams. My parents would always tell me I was braver than my brothers, no. Always taking risks. No fear, no pain, nothing to lose.

Would that little girl, with the bright colored sweaters and painted nails, look at me, look at the life I am living and be excited I made it? What would I tell her? I may not be much different than that girl now. Maybe she is braver than I. When did I lose that? And how do I attempt to get it back? Will I twenty years from now and think the same thing about myself now? I hope not. I think my younger self would like the way I hang important moments on my wall. Quotes and photos and memories, illuminated by twinkling lights. I think she would like the friends I’ve made. The ones I can sit in silence with and laugh about how life has brought us together. I think she would like the amount of concerts I’ve been to, and the places I’ve seen, the nature I’ve been able to take in. I think she’d love my hair, and my nose, that took me a little too long to grow into. I think she would love the books I’ve read and the love I’ve been able to express.

But most of all I think she would like the strength I continue to have every day. I continue to push myself to make her proud. And to make my future self proud as well. Twenty something, such an odd time to be living in, somewhere I was terrified to be, but somewhere I can find comfort in reaching.

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The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.



I remember my first day of first grade. I was at a new school and my relationships with the other eight kids in my homeroom were all about the same. All eight had already gone to either Montessori or kindergarten together. I was the new kid.

After a light morning of introductory material, my homeroom teacher decided to take the nine of us down early to lunch. In the transition from classroom to cafeteria, I somehow ended up in the back of the lunch line.

At the moment, this was no issue; bus rides on the way to my parochial preschool/kindergarten had taught me that it was actually cool sometimes to be in the back. And it was not as if I wasn’t talking to the eighth kid in line. I’m pretty sure I put up a decent effort of some laid-back conversation.

As each one of us filtered through the lunch line, we were directed to the two circular tables that would serve as the eating grounds of my homeroom for the forthcoming year. The table closest to the exit of the lunch line happened to have eight chairs. First graders also happen to follow the behavior of the kid in front of them

Therefore, when I made it to my homeroom’s section in the cafeteria, I was forced to sit alone, as the eight kids in front of me had gone and filled up the first table.

Now my homeroom teacher quickly realized what had happened and prompted the rest of my class to recognize the injustice they had passively accomplished. Soon enough I had half the class around me at my table and life went on from there.

Did it feel good being made an exclusion case study? No. Was it personal? Probably not. Am I still harboring resentment? Possibly.

The memories of my school lunchtimes since then could fill volumes.

I remember passing the twelfth second of 12:12 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2012 in that same cafeteria I first enjoyed in the first grade.

I remember how my happiness each day in middle school came to depend on who I was seen eating lunch with in the cafeteria we shared with the high school I never wound up attending.

I remember the tall tales I told at the lunch tables my own freshman year of high school to attract the attention I desperately need.

I remember taking my to-go lunch out of the cafeteria during the second semester of my senior year of high school to eat behind the library book stacks while reading news articles about some disease that was tearing through China.

I remember reading the summer before college about the Zahm table in the north dining hall that would never materialize again due to Covid.

I remember sneaking in Subway turkey sandwiches back from LaFun in my backpack to eat at my desk day after day my first-year.

Now a proud Baumer Buccaneer, I call South Dining Hall my home. I have even found a little bit of love writing for The Observer’s news, sports, scene and social media departments in the basement of SDH.

Still, Monday through Friday this semester, after I get out of class at either 1:40 p.m. or 1:45 p.m., I head to SDH to eat alone.

I’m usually wearing boots and trying to get better about not wearing my headphones. If you want to eat with me, let me know.

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This views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.