January 2, 2013 by Justin Miller
I know that I haven’t kept my promise. I haven’t written to you in months, but trust me when I say that it hasn’t been you that kept me away. You have been on my mind frequently, and the more I thought of you the more I realized that without words, or breath, we cannot exist. I want us to exist.
As many of you know I interned with BULLETT Media (bullettmedia.com) in Manhattan New York over the past summer. First, as you can imagine, living expenses in New York are astronomical, which is why I didn’t stay in New York; I am staying with a friend and his family in Darien, CT. If you haven’t Googled Darien yet, let me just say that it’s ritzy. Ritzy as in “Yes, I am a CEO or corporate leader and yes, the house didn’t come with the big white fence and stone statues, I imported them from Europe because I am filthy rich and own three boats.” Yeah. But it’s pretty quiet in Darien–it has its similarities to Williamsburg.
As for BULLETT, I interned in the editorial department, so I’m always working with text. Whether researching for a feature, copy editing, transcribing an interview, or doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff via WordPress for the website, I always stayed busy. I would rather be with the cool kids in the table next to us editing film or photos, and messing with layout and design. But I guess you have to start somewhere, right? I had to carry the editor-in-chief’s dog once. Well, I didn’t have to, but my director, Juliet, was taking the dog back to her apartment and was carrying her in this suitcase thing on the metro and the dog was a bit too heavy for Juliet so I helped her.
New York itself. It reminded me of a big muddled mash of Richmond and DC. It’s busy and crowded, which is fine because once you survive public schooling for twelve years and have been in an airport as much as I have you know how to dodge a couple dozen “I’m-just-standing-in-your-way-for-no-reason” kind of people. There is a lot to see, eat (trust me), and do. I was normally in the city from 9:30am-7pm, the majority of the time in the office, but sometimes I commuted into the city during the weekend to actually see the city. I think a lot of people take it for granted that they are actually living in what some people consider the center of the very world, if not universe, and are actually accustomed to subways, and tall buildings, and New York life in general. But I get the feeling that the majority of the people in the world take their own homes, whether it is in the suburbs, the countryside, or even Europe, for granted. The phrase is trite, but you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and while returning to Virginia wasn’t fantastic, I did/do enjoy the homogeneous rows of houses, fresh air, and grass. Yes, grass, because that’s sparse in Manhattan.
This past semester was such a blur. Academic wise, I was only taking 13 credits, but it was a lot of reading and writing. I worked on an independent study with Professor Nancy Schoenberger, and I actually wrote about my summer in New York. The independent study was basically an exploration and cultivation of memoir, creative nonfiction, and blending the two forms into a hybrid. Weird, but I’m proud of the portfolio. You should read it sometime. I was also dealing with the whole tug of whether or not I really feel the need to apply to any graduate schools now or just wait a while. I think I am still dealing with that tug, to be honest. I think the academic institution, in all of its shapes and forms, is a safety blanket that I enjoy. But I also just like the feeling of being surrounded by people in my own age group, and knowing, no matter what time or light of day, that someone is awake somewhere on campus waiting to talk or hang out.
I still have a few opportunities, though. One of them involves talking with some Abercrombie & Fitch recruiters and getting into their MIT program, which would last this whole summer and send me off to Colombus, Ohio, where I would train to be a corporate leader/manager and then relocate somewhere. I’ve told some of the people I’ve spoken with that I highly prefer relocating abroad to either London, Paris, Milan, but now that I think about it I know I’ll be miserably lonely. That’s why I hate coming home for breaks and tenaciously seek driving to visit friends: loneliness. Another opportunity(ies) include applying to publishing institutes in New York (at NYU and Columbia) and going to those next summer. But while A&F can offer me a secure salary, these institutes only allow me to network and make connections, connections, that, if I press hard enough, could lead me to a job. Who knows.
Outside of academia, I’ve been trying to spend as much time and memory with friends. This semester has been, by far, the most eye-opening and heart wrenching. I’ve started to make amends with two guys who I use to be really good friends with freshman/sophomore year, but with whom I burned bridges. It was difficult at first to actually sit across from each of them at a table and articulate why I acted the way I did or attempt to translate the beats of my heart. It was as if I was shoving a mirror into my face and really facing everything that I was avoiding, and hiding from, and too afraid or proud to confront. I’m starting to learn that the universe actually does work in mysterious ways; what you put in is what you get out. I haven’t put in a lot of good things, and, well, I haven’t gotten a lot of good things out. But I can—we can—better ourselves by treating and each other more delicately.
I hope that you are well and that you are not letting the world, or its ego, or your ego, or any pain, bitterness, or pressure, sneak itself into your heart. I hope that you are not seeking the answers to questions that will, with time, unravel before you.