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Kathy Tun

Inside ... and outside the proverbial box

I drive home one night and watch snow blow from one side of the road to the other. I watch the thin threads sewing me up into the winter storm, every stitch holding me together in a way my attention had never been held before. I was trapped on Anywhere and Who knows — not necessarily the kind of streets you want to raise your kids at. But Anywhere is better than nowhere, so why not start there?

I left the party early because patience didn’t seem to suit me tonight. Instead I put my coat on and said I wanted to go home, wherever that idea of home might take me, and I decided to drive until I found it.

The traffic was pretty bad when I think about it. But the radio broadcasts sounded as clear as ever with DJ Carey throwing all the greatest hits my way. Through my car’s mirrors I could see people driving like their favorite song was on, and going faster meant making it home before getting to the chorus of the song. At that speed, it was easy for the snow to build up around us.

You could say we were trapped without a way out. We were in that box my teachers were always telling me to think outside of. “Try again,” they say. “Think.” But could thinking really make a difference now? I think there comes a time when thoughts aren’t enough to count.

My foot hovers over the pedals in the same place it always does. Telling you the exact latitude and longitude wouldn’t even matter. Imagine if we all focused on where we were stuck. When would we have the time to do that?

Am I searching for an end to suffering? Or am I too impatient to wait for the snow to melt? That’s one thing the teachers couldn’t tell me. I asked multiple times for answers, and they shrugged my questions off their nervous shoulders. When I gave up on them, I sent out an SOS on the school playgrounds.

I wrote for someone to send me the box of answers: A box I could think outside of. Maybe one day when it arrives to my door I could reach right in the box and proclaim the truths we all want to hear. And then we could play them on our radios over and over and over.

Until we get tired, of course. Then we’d keep driving ‘til we found our mailboxes at the side of the road, waiting to greet us at home.


Once the traffic clears I’ll drive ‘til I find my mailbox. And in it I will find all the questions from my younger self, my playground philosopher mind in the shape of a 3-by-5 postcard, asking me what life will turn out to be like, and who I will fall in love with, and ending with a sweet closing ...

I wish you were here.

Kathy Tun of Spring Valley is a sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington. She can be reached in care of this newspaper at P.O. Box 340, Princeton, IL 61356.