The words flutter across the dark sky. A large white banner holds those words in big and bold letters. I find myself chuckling at the irony as I stand on the crowded sidewalk of Mill Ave on St. Patrick’s day. Less than half a mile down the street is Arizona State, and most of these people probably attend the university or have at some point. I think about the words individually as a girl I don’t know, but who is with the friend that we came to meet, stumbles around with her cigarette coming inches from burning me in the leg at any moment. Does Tempe use this slogan to pretend to be something else? A college party town with less going for them in other entertainment departments than the state Capitol next to it. Around the corner at ASU, there is plenty of learning taking place, 70k students enroll in some program or another.
4 years ago I would have given anything to be where I stood tonight. (except with the girl having no control over the hand that held the lit cigarette.) Amongst my peers, drinking, having a good time, what more could I want. And at that age, opportunity to feel this way was not readily available. I now stand here, surrounded by people doing just that, feeling like a complete outsider, and not feeling any connection to my environment.
Had I had 3 more drinks in me, I could have felt similar; carelessly throwing my head back in uncontrollable laughter. But I didn’t. I was “with” people I didn’t know, 75% of them too drunk to even know that we had joined their party. (to fill in a blank, my boyfriend and I met up with one of his friends who was out with 4 girls) We stood in line to get into a bar for 20 minutes, only to abruptly be led put by the drunk girls in less than 10 minutes after I got my drink. What seemed like an aimless wander came to a point at a sandwich shop. In my way too sober state, I was miserable with the circumstance. It’s one thing to meet new people, but there was zero interaction here. My night was now being dictated by drunk 21 year old’s I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. The independent woman half of my brain told me to just take the light rail home, and the other side, that acknowledged all of the bad things that can happen told me to call my mom to pick me up.
A night that commenced on its original place, the tavern down the street from my apartment and off the light rail stop, I sat on a barstool watching completely I edited Girls Gone Wild infomercials. Despite the silence taking place between me and my partner, my guilt that he left with me, and anger that our first St.Patty’s day together had as much fun as a tire fire, I was far more comfortable there. No one was drunkenly grinding in outfits that were skimpier than the 7 I had earlier vetoed on myself, I could just sit with my can of cheap beer.
I continued contemplating the words. I learn every day I live here, sometimes it’s something beneficial and sometime’s it’s what I should stop doing. Living is what I struggle with. I moved here to live more, but I have found myself crawling deeper inside of myself. Growing is what I never expected to do; growing out of myself, my city, and my lifestyle.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.