I remember sitting awake in bed during one of my many anxiety-induced spouts of restlessness. I didn’t like the house I lived in, or the branches that slapped themselves across my window in the wind, waking me in the night for fear that someone was perhaps knocking. I didn’t like when my parents would leave and I would sit stationary with only my dogs to comfort me, unwilling and unable to walk around or feel safe within the perimeters of my house. This was a structure that was supposed to offer as a place of love, safety, and homliness… Instead, all I ever felt was lonely-helpless to the patterns of my anxiety and plagued by the fears that weighed upon my thoughts each time I entered this house that I wanted so badly to be a home.
I read the Wizard of Oz and couldn’t help but picture myself as Dorothy, discontent with the decrepit landscape that surrounded her house, discontent with where she was just as I. As a character, Dorothy was very misunderstood and under-appreciated by her guardians, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. These were both people who had both become cynical and lost their wills for love and laughter, unlike young Dorothy.
In my house, and in this town I lived in, I was often misunderstood and questioned constantly about my actions, my appearance, and even my passions as a person. This was a prevalent occurrence for someone at a high school filled with wealthy and predominantly conformist individuals, the Aunt Em and Uncle Henry of my own story. Not only was this environment what helped push me to graduate high school early, but to continue to pursue what I loved and set off toward a life where I could feel at home in a thriving city like Chicago, not weighted by the fears and restraints of where I came from.
As Dorothy was literally and figuratively ripped from her her house, she was forced to let go of her mundane realities and gain a new independence, something I’m currently doing as a new college student and resident of 2 E 8th Street, Chicago. I pictured my own journey to graduate early from high school this past year and to start college as the cyclone that Dorothy experienced.
Trying to do all that was necessary to graduate with my course requirements, I was swept into a school year full of stress and uncertainty as I desperately tried do whatever it took to get out of that lifeless town, facing some of the same frustrations as Dorothy in her dirt-patch enclosure.
Like Dorothy, I slowly felt my fears overcome in the midst of chaos, learning to embrace the new possibilities that lay ahead of me, my old house crumbling behind as I moved permanently, still uncertain of where to call home.
Now, I no longer lay awake in bed, fearful of my surroundings and saddened by the environment I find myself in. I can sleep comfortably in this new city, this huge city. However overwhelming, I am ready to take on this chaotic cyclone and let it drive me toward a new path and a new place to call home, just as Dorothy does as she drifts off to sleep. (Alex Manley/ City of Stories Student)