Essay, Non-Fiction

New Place

Originally written for and posted at Our Jackson Home

It has been nearly seven years since I landed in Jackson, and in that time I have lived at all three corners of this town’s Kroger Triangle. First I lived on Union’s campus and then in midtown for a couple years, until eventually moving back north. Then, last summer when the lease was up and I had already given notice at work without knowing the next step, I crashed with my friends Angie and David’s family while I took time to “figure things out” (very millennial of me, no?). For about two months I was unsure of whether or not I would stay in Jackson, but by the end of the summer I was settling in the Lambuth area into a little apartment of my very own.

“Do you smell that?” Angie asked, walking around the empty apartment. I had just picked up the key that day, and we went over excited to see my new home.

“I guess it has a kind of old building smell,” I said. “Dust?”

No, Josh! It’s character!”

We paced around the whole place imagining where things would go. “A dinner table here, of course. But how will you arrange the living room?”

“This room will be my bedroom, I think, and this one will be my workspace.”

“How much furniture do you have?”

“Not a lot.”

“Craigslist, man.”

I’m not where I thought I would be at twenty-four. I’m not really sure what I expected for myself, but reality and my expectations were not matching up, thus the summer of “figuring it out.” I think when I was in high school, twenty-four looked like an office with my name on the door, a new car, a studio apartment in larger city, and definitely my own health care and WiFi. I am laughing at myself as I write this, because my expectations for myself have done a one-eighty. I realize I may never have an office with my name on the door. If my car breaks down, I will buy a new bike. Having one’s own WiFi seems like the pinnacle of adulthood (with a password and everything so people like me can’t steal it). And reliable health care? Maybe by the time I’m forty, if I’m lucky. In the meantime, I’m just praying that my car will outlive everyone’s expectations, and that I won’t break any bones or contract some unidentified and very expensive virus-cancer breed after I turn twenty-six, which (if I’m any good at falsifying documents) won’t be until 2025. But, despite previously held expectations, I recently changed my voter’s registration address to Madison County on my lunch break and, although it doesn’t feel office-of-your-own-grown-up, it feels right for twenty-four. Continue reading

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Non-Fiction

On Running

Awareness of my body is usually accompanied by dread. As with public speaking, confrontation, or anything else requiring antiperspirant, I tend to project my most maliciously judgmental thoughts, fears, and feelings about myself onto the collective conscious of my audience. Some of my most agonizing memories are of moments when I was most aware of my physical self. It’s as if my body is a drunk friend at a party, who everyone knows I invited, and is slurring in people’s faces, “Yess, weyare old pals. Weyare like thissss. W’go waybak.” And although we’re not the same, by association we are. There was the time my body knocked on the bathroom door and popped his head in while I was taking a bath with my younger brother. “Don’t you know you’re too old for this shit?” he said. “Has it seriously not occurred to you yet? What are you, six? Seven? Get outta the tub and take a shower like a man.” Or one summer when I was at the YMCA and saw that a lifeguard (and here I’m not so sure if my memory is accurate or if it’s a self-constructed myth in the narrative of my personal shame) had a chain linked between his pierced navel and nipple. All of the sudden I became aware that I had nipples, too—and they were exposed. “Everyone!” my body called out. “Look, he’s got nipples!” And then of course 2000 through 2004, the years in which puberty burned brightest. Even today, I take off my shirt at the pool or the beach with a feigned nonchalance that I am still crafting. It does seem sort of surprising then that I would find pleasure in something I once stuck a finger down my throat to avoid doing in gym class (without success)—running.   Continue reading

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