I said a while back that I wanted to share more of my writing. I've used writing prompts to do this, and now I'm going to share my first CNF piece. This is actually the very first one I wrote for my class this fall. We had to write about a moment where we felt intense joy or intense fear. I hope you like it. :)
I wouldn’t necessarily call what I felt in the car that night joy. It was more a moment of contentment and peace. But when you struggle with anxiety, stress, and insecurities, contentment can seem a lot like joy.
On the evening of the last day in March, I was done with my homework and felt antsy. There was nothing happening on social media, and I’d exhausted my Netflix queue and bookshelves a few days before. Earlier that week, I’d been alone on campus for Easter break. All of my friends had gone home, but a four-day weekend was too short to justify the sixteen-hour round trip to Virginia. I’d been at Asbury for almost two full years, but I still wasn’t used to living so far from home.
Regardless, I was also suffering from residual loneliness and a sense of exclusion. I decided I needed a short adventure—nothing big, but enough to stave off my worst insecurities.
I mentally ran through the list of my closest friends at Asbury. I thought about texting Mary-Courtney, but I figured she was hanging out with her boyfriend or the freshman she’d befriended that year. Elise would be with her boyfriend, too, and I assumed Sarah had too much homework. Besides, my friendship with her was still new and I didn’t want to scare her off with an adventure proposition. That left Julia.
I wandered through my maze-like dorm and down the stairs to her room. I fiddled with the ring on my right hand. I’ve known Julia since orientation week at Asbury; we’d become good friends, bonding over our love for all things Taylor Swift and French. She was usually up for a late night drive, something I was hoping to take advantage of with my proposition. Julia had a snug red CRV lovingly dubbed Margaret, and she was the perfect vehicle for adventures.
I knocked on her door and entered at her soft, “Come in.”
Her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes. Her face was washed clean of makeup, and she’d already changed into pajamas and tossed her blonde hair up into a messy bun. She had a lot of homework spread around her, and I almost didn’t present my proposition.
“Do you want to go to Sonic?” I asked. Julia opened her mouth but before she could reply, I cut in, “Please? I’m getting cabin fever since I didn’t leave campus at all this weekend, and I’ll pay for your drink.”
She studied her textbooks and notebooks before looking back up at me. “I don’t know, I have a lot of homework to catch up on...”
“Please?” I said again, placing my hands under my chin in an attempt to look all cute and innocent. “Come on, you need a break!”
She nodded, and her smile grew a little more genuine. “All right. Give me ten minutes to finish these problems.”
Fifteen minutes later, phones and wallets in hand, we strolled out of the dorm and across the parking lot to Margaret. It was a clear, warm night, probably in the upper sixties. As a former Illinois girl, I was used to blustery frigid Marches, so this was a nice change.
Julia focused on driving while I plugged in her phone so we could jam for the short drive to Sonic. I queued up my “Riding Shotgun” playlist, something that had become a staple any time we drove places together. Julia sang along to her favorites—namely Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and OMI’s “Cheerleader”—and I danced a little in my seat. We talked about small things, like our homework load for that week and how crazy the semester felt as we got closer and closer to finals. I found myself chattering on, as I listed all the projects and papers due before the semester was over.
My heart tip-tapped faster and faster and sweat prickled on my hands. When I paused for breath, I wiped my hands on my pants and sighed. Giving into my anxiety was never a good idea. Thankfully, the yellow and red lights came into view. They were the distraction I needed. We went to the drive-through so we could get back to campus sooner. Julia asked for a blue raspberry slush, and I ordered tater tots for us to share, along with a chocolate strawberry shake.
Once we were back on the road, I stretched my legs and sighed softly. The car smelled like Sonic—salt and grease mingling until we scooped up the last tater tot from the box. This was exactly what I needed tonight, quality girl time and a chocolate strawberry shake.
As we drove further away from the bright lights into the Kentucky countryside, “Cecilia and the Satellite” started playing. The familiar beat of the indie rock song thrummed through my feet and up to my fingers. The chorus always reminded me of a song they’d use in a teen movie. If I had rolled my window down, I would’ve been tempted to stick my arm out and move my hand in a wave-like motion. Instead, I peered out the windshield as I mouthed the words. The stars were out and all felt right in my world.