Early in my freshman year, my friends and I concocted a game called, “Fun Facts about my Hometown.” What began as an innocuous exchange of trivia about our home states and individual points of origin soon transformed into a heated competition, renamed “Whose Hometown Is Best?” Naturally, an important facet of this more confrontational stage was tearing down one another’s places of residence. (We repeatedly introduced our Maryland friend as having crabs.)
On Monday, after reading a particularly inspiring article—Bob Verdi, on how it would be “a colossal disappointment” if the Cubs didn’t make it to the World Series—I began to hope, though I did have the sense to ask the friend who had sent the article if Verdi was just trying to jinx us.
So, on Monday, I started to hope. On Wednesday, the Cubs started to fall apart. On Saturday, the demise was complete.
I hadn’t felt safe at night since the eighth grade, when I was taught to be afraid of the dark. The class was technically called self-defense, but it focused much more on fear than survival skills. Our co-ed gym class was divided for the month or so it took to teach us girls to cross the street, walk with our keys in hand, and not talk on the phone. Not to mention the Miss Congeniality-esque defense maneuvers that I would never, ever use. It became clear that the point of the class was to learn how to avoid dangerous situations, not to learn what to do if such a situation actually occured. It’s a valid point, and many of the pointers were useful for teenage girls growing up in a big city like Chicago. By the end of the unit, though, we were all convinced that we would get mugged if we took the El after dark, and God help us if we didn’t have a twenty in our wallets for the mugger.
In the month that I’ve been working in Germany before my semester begins, I’ve learned plenty: what a plus sign in a phone number means, how to say instantaneous [augenblicklich] and to buy groceries on Saturday, since everything is closed on Sunday.
Fresh from the shower and clad only in a towel, I saw that one of my apartment-mates had opened her door, so I knew she was awake. I immediately walked into her room and, still dripping, launched into my interrogation. I had gone to bed before she came home, and all I knew was that there was a boy involved. She began her story as she tried to print a paper using my computer and her printer. After a few unsuccessful attempts, we migrated to my room to use my printer.