Have you ever been in a moment and realized you would remember it forever as the day you fell in love with life?
We were standing in a living room, sipping at our drinks and laughing with strangers. The walls were white and decorated with unique drawings and friendly sayings. Exposed beams dotted the ceiling with a metallic air vent crossing their paths. Lofted bedrooms opened up to the bright space right above our heads. The home was beautiful and the moment magical.
I had dragged my friends Cam and Zac with me to the Chicago Art District’s 2nd Fridays event, excited but nervous to be outside of my comfort zone. It isn’t located in one of the safest neighborhoods, but I wasn’t going to let fear hold me back from experiencing life. When we pulled up I smiled like an excited child. The street was lined with old brick buildings, their black and gray trim peeling, exposing the deteriorated wood beneath their finish. Each of the insides was architecturally unique, modern, and artsy. Old wooden ladders led to lofted studios while abstract paintings glimmered under bright lights. Outside, in the back, they were all connected by a balcony overlooking a dense, green garden of overgrown vines and hundred year old trees. Ivy creeped up the exposed brick and plaster, taking back its rightful grounds. It was life a fairytale.
As we walked down the street we came across a studio that was for sale. We looked in the window to see leaves scattered across the floor and trees cut to fit perfectly from ground to ceiling. It was mesmerizing, as if the artist wanted to say, “no one can own the space anyways, the Earth owns it.”
The top of this studio, however, was owned. A door was propped open and a set of stairs led up to what we perceived to be another studio. This was no studio, though. This was someones house. The second I reached the top of the stairs my cheeks turned bright red, I was so embarrassed! I had just walked into someones apartment and intruded upon their personal party! I immediately began to turn around when a couple stopped me and welcomed me. I was so confused, I didn’t know anyone there. The man explained to me that the party is an open house, as in they open their house every month during 2nd Fridays for people to wander in, socialize, eat, drink, and have a grand time. Originally it happened by accident, but quickly it became a brilliant way for visitors to interact.
What a beautiful idea. To open your home up to complete strangers and place your trust in their hands. I met artists, scientists, photographers, writers, and lawyers. Every second of it was surreal. I’ve never felt so exposed yet connected. Thats what leaving your comfort zone does to you. Its terrifyingly raw and exhilarating. It’s interesting how much you learn about yourself when you are put in such a vulnerable and exposed state. I believe it’s only then you realize the person you want to be. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for the past three years. In this moment, surrounded by artists, thinkers, dreamers, and believers it all melted. I’m not scared of the real me anymore. I don’t need to make good money or grades or live the status quo life. I need to be me. “There was a time when my world was filled with darkness. Then I stopped dreaming, now I’m supposed to fill it up with something.” I have so much time to fill my life up with “something” and I know that that something will be beautiful, creative, adventurous, passionate, and courageous.
Hours later we left the art district and drove toward the bright lights of the city, and in that moment I knew, I fell in love with life.