Day 14 – WJI

Our last farewells.

After we worked on our videos until the hour the ghosts begin to walk, Kaylen and I walked down to the place that normally carried on all the ruckus while we tried to sleep. It was, after all, our last night. After the bar closed, we paced up and down the length of the block admiring the parking garage and talking of all things.

Crawled out of bed to pack a few hours later. And then…we made our last group foray to the WORLD News Office.

Friday night on the town with Kaylen. Good times.
Friday night on the town with Kaylen. Jesus! The world! Writing! Good times.

A playwright came and spoke to us on adding dramatic elements to our news stories. Really, we got knee deep the concept of story, Shakespeare, Robert McKee, and all things bright and beautiful.

There were a lot of big words. And there were no fresh, perky minds. But I think we all still learned a lot. I wrote notes wildly because I knew my brain’s advanced degeneration wouldn’t hold onto things very long. Most of the scribbles and diagrams still make sense and they’re exciting to review.

I think the fact that, despite all the other talks being on newer material and from people I knew better and loved more although in a from-a-far, deeply respectful manner, this was the talk that made my blood pressure and creative neurons spike the most wildly. This probably tells me something unpleasant and penniless about my true calling in life.
(Maybe more on this in a later reflective/retrospective post.)

Apologies to the playwright…I did not get the correct spelling of his name, so he is remaining anonymous in a deep and literary way none of us will ever fully understand.

Learning from the playwright. Maybe it should tell me something about the future when this session made me crazy to put pen to paper...
People misinterpreting Shakespeare! Rise up and say, no more! Learning from the playwright. Maybe it should tell me something about the future when this session made me crazy to put pen to paper… Our last session.

After another dose of caffeine, we watched everyone’s interview videos. We could have done a lot of things better, but I think we did pretty decently for being non-video gurus. Drew Belz encouraged us with his energetic chillness (it’s a thing) teaching us to understand what we wanted, get what we wanted, and edit/salvage anything useful…all in the same day.

Many videos were, I so-unbiasely think, genuinely good. There were some touching stories as well some random dudes meditating. Asheville. ❤

After the videos, Mr Pitts gave us one more gracious pep talk and Dr. Olasky prayed and Bethany wept.

Goodbye selfie with Mrs. Olasky!
Goodbye selfie with Mrs. Olasky!

Then we awkwardly milled around exchanging avocados, filling out paperwork, sort of saying “so long,” and, in the case of Thomas, singing emotional farewell songs.

When the most imminent goodbyes had been fulfilled, those who remained went out to lunch and talked a little about what we learned and where we want to go, and quite a lot about how incredible Mr. Pitts is and always will be.

We also ate eggs for the first time in two weeks. I didn’t even think I liked eggs. Now, it’s all I think about.

Heather. And our hostel.
Heather. And our hostel.
Jae. <3
Jae. ❤
Some comrades in arms.  Post-lunch, pre-goodbyes.
Some comrades in arms. Bad picture, but captures some vibes.
Post-lunch, pre-goodbyes.
Bad lighting, but favorite
Bad lighting, but favorite “action portrait.”
Onize's wonderful hair takes center stage.
Onize’s wonderful hair takes center stage.
Last in the series.
Last in the series. Jae, Evan, Abby, Thomas, Heather, Onize.

Abby, Onize, Thomas, and I got ourselves lost while we tried to find the bus station (our navigator was singing a farewell lullaby), said goodbye to Thomas, and headed to the airport. Onize and Abby are the best for driving me in. ❤

I left my last comrades and went into the little, baby airport. There were no lines, just elderly couples on their way to European cruises.

It looked like I would zip through the security line, but, despite not setting off any alarms, I gave the TSA staff 20 minutes of labor.

They swabbed and/or took apart all my precious belongings, including my Hector (my most esteemed laptop). Then this lady had to pat me down in a big way and she had an accent and I could tell it was Eastern European. When the worst was over, she was handing me back my bag and asked what the blue and yellow ribbon were about. I said they were Ukrainian. And then she said she was from Donetsk so we had a little moment. It would have been a much better, more informative moment if I hadn’t been so selfish feeling and zombiefied.

Later I was thinking….wow, that woman was really astute to notice the little ribbon and then I remembered that I was wearing hair ribbons, had a book about the EuroMaidan in my backpack, a Ukrainian purse, and a decal of Ukraine (pre-Russian invasion) on my computer–every object of which they swabbed for bomb particles. No detective work there. I guess she had to ask about something she would see in normal decency.
(How do you like all the passiveness in that paragraph? Getting your life thrown out on a metal table while you stand by and watch is, by nature, a passive activity.)

I got on and off my reportedly broken plane a few times while my connection in Chicago came and went. I could barely stay awake just sitting there and talking on the phone with Ma and airlines.

After saying goodbye to people I always just feel this desperate need to be home. And I was so not happy about the possibility of missing another Sunday at my home church. But I tried to stay Christian.

Finally getting to read this without feeling guilty... Also. An avocado, but no utensil.
Finally getting to read this without feeling guilty… Also. An avocado, but no utensil.

The day’s saga ended with a ragged, two-braided, mascara smeared, be-backpacked homeless person walking into a fancy Chicago hotel only to be turned away….Then reconsidered after she produced an airline voucher. She walked through the gilded hallways cold and alone, drenched in rain and the filth of the streets, close to despair, and…then…then there appeared Charlie LeDuff’s  visage on a lobby TV.

She went to her room, reposed on her massive bed, forgot to remove the smile from her face, and slept like a wee child.


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