July 1, 2005

Volume 33
Issue 26


Feb 06, 2016



Tour De Life  
by Beau Burriola
It was three in the morning. A light mist gently fell and rose into the night air, blurring the yellow street lights and making my skin feel wet.

I stood between a muscly guy about my age with a dragon tattoo and a girl with three lip piercings, looking into the water from a bridge on Michigan Avenue. Downtown Chicago at night really makes an impression. I think rivers make any city look stunning, but on this particular warm summer night, the combination of the city lights and summer sounds mixing with the super-urban buzz of the city melted together and gently wove an epiphany in my mind.

We humans can really go to crazy lengths to prove something to ourselves that we already know: we stay on in long relationships with the hope that they work out, knowing they never will; we sometimes try to get emotional responses from people because we want to feel the warmth of an emotional response; or, in some drastic cases, we move all the way across the country to remind ourselves of why we live at home.

I came to Chicago with the intent to change my life. I wanted to know more, to do more, to feel and experience more than I thought the strip of land between Lake Washington and Puget Sound was allowing me. “This city is too small,” I said and have heard some folks in Seattle say. “I’m tired of it here. I wonder what it’s like somewhere else.”

So I packed it up and went; because when you’re 26, that’s what life is about. If you don’t like something, you’re young and unattached enough to change it.

When I first went away, the explosion of new places, new people, new faces, new streets, new stores, new gym, new work— new everything — was mind-blowing. This is a city with everything you could imagine, filled to the brim with colorful people like my two companions. She now leaned on the bridge humming and he was thumping out a random but fitting beat on the metal post. None of us said a word. We were all deep in thought.

Frankie was right. Michael was right. Stuart was right - everybody was right. Chicago kicks ass! It’s a fantastic place you can never get bored in full of tons of people. But it isn’t my place.

“You’ll know home when you see it,” my grandma told me this last Sunday, the day I learned that Aunt Marva Lynn had passed away at the age of 59. Her death at such a young age had suddenly cast the world a few shades more real on all of us.

“Home,” has always been for me a place that’s somewhere else. When I lived in Texas, it was wherever I could sit on that old hill and dream to be besides Texas. When it was in Seattle, it was wherever I could dream other places were like, or that place down south that I came from. Rarely has it been where I am.

Now, here, standing on the bridge and looking down at the city behind me, I figured out where home is. It’s where, for the last six years of my life, I’ve constructed and painted the huge canvas of my life: the mistakes I made, the people I loved, the times I was defeated, the times I got back up only to be knocked down again, the times I got up again, the friendships I built, the career I’ve built... every experience I’ve painted onto my life’s canvas is still there in Seattle. So maybe I can’t get rid of some of the colors I want to. Maybe I can’t take away some things I wish I could and start over with a clean slate, but then maybe life isn’t about having a clean slate. Maybe it’s just about painting the picture.

Now, in spite of the swirl of energy I’ve thrown into proving this painfully obvious point to myself, in spite of the huge amounts of money I’ve spent on Chicago that could have been going to tuition, and in spite of the tons of harassing I will endure at the hand of Izzy - who warned me again and again that I’ll “be back and that this is all just a big waste of time” - I’m coming home.

You can spend your whole Gay life trying to find out where you fit. When you don’t think you can fit into the place you are and you start to think it’s the place that needs to change, you can spend your whole life running. The real challenge comes with staying still and just being.

It’s painfully clear that I don’t have all the answers. If I ever thought I did, I only have to look at how far I went to prove to myself where home is.

Some folks have accused me of being wise. I don’t know if I believe that, especially when in situations like this, but even if I did, it seems to me that wisdom without life experience is really just better hindsight.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

Beau Burriola is a 26-year-old writer in the middle of a big U-turn. Send him some email:

Hugo Overjero
Spanish & English

Leslie Robinson

Glenn Pressel

Paula Martinac

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