My books are on my shelves, my violin is tuned, and my spice rack is full. I’ve finally settled into Lincoln, Nebraska, with a few weeks before I start my first semester of graduate school. I spent yesterday exploring the city on foot, and a few sunburns and several hours later I returned to my apartment exhausted but satisfied.
Wandering alone in a big city is a new experience for me. I knew my former home of Flagstaff was relatively small, but getting lost in Lincoln proved to me that I am only one brick in the world’s framework. In my exploration, every corner I turned showed me a new organ in Lincoln’s body. I flew through decades into the Midwest’s past, into rustic red brick buildings, some dating back to the 1870s. I perused this place’s history, its survival on the plains, and those strange intersections where the past meets the present in the connective tissue of reinvigorated neighborhoods and gentrification.
Although being in a big city should be overwhelming, for a writer it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I can use any one of a dozen metaphors to describe my place in the city, a cell in a body or a brick in a building, and all of them describe how I feel. They all express my belief that individuality is overrun by community, and I’m sure that Lincoln will organically change me as a person regardless of whether or not I want it to. But for a writer, a city is just one big candy store because it’s not made of bricks or cells, but of stories. There is street art, there is sewage, there are coffee shops, there are dimly lit bars, and right now all of it is new to me.
One day of exploration has already transformed me. Today, I’ll find a few good places to write on campus and around town, all of which are within walking distance of my apartment. But for the moment, I am still freefalling through Lincoln’s grid of stories, hardly able to contain my excitement.
P.S. A surprisingly fitting song to have stuck in one’s head while wandering around lost in a new city is H.S.K.T by Sylvan Esso. I also find it suitable for writing about cities.