“A Vigil, On Birds and Glass.”

I woke up this morning still dreaming, or not fully aware of myself just yet. The sun poked through the windows, touching my face, and then a deep realization overcame me, immediately, bringing me to life — I soon will no longer be a Belmont Bruin.

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1:35 am.

November 18th, 2016.

Today is the day my narrative project for Cinematic Storytelling is due.

Approximately 5 hours before this, I finished revising the script, got three of my friends to act in it at the last minute, and I shot it on Delmar Avenue right between Belmont Commons and the Sports Science Center. When I was done shooting, I thanked everyone and went to my dorm room, crawled into bed, threw headphones on, plugged the SD card into my laptop and began editing. At 1:35 am, I was stuck. I hit an editors block. In order to get out of this funk, I had to find inspiration in something cinematically pleasing. I went to Youtube and perused the suggestions page. 2 minutes later, I am watching the Manchester by the Sea trailer for the first time. The movie stars Casey Affleck and the plot revolves around him having to take care of his recently deceased brother’s 16 year old. It is a tale of despair and character study of the heart and love in people directed towards others and tragedy that can come with it. In the trailer, a song plays titled “Land of the Living” by Mathew Perryman Jones. In the song, Jones belts out the lyrics “I AM COMING HOOOME” and in that exact moment, I paused the trailer, went to Spotify and listened to the song in it’s entirety. The song is all about the nostalgia for his hometown, and him finally after so much trouble, finally going back.

The song hit me hard. I started to think all about Kansas City and the amount I missed it. I promised myself to stay away from everything KC because I did not want to be reminded about the city I was missing so much. I finally broke that seal on December 14ht when I watched a profile video of a photographer in Kansas City. Seeing all the buildings and landscapes and Power and Light and the Sprint Center, had me in tears.

Over the next few weeks in November and December, I started to think long and hard about my education and my place here in Nashville. I knew I did not the city like as much as I had previously thought and my education was not coming along as well as I had hoped. I had really good grades, but it felt like I was not learning anything. For the first semester, I had kids in my first year seminar class transfer at semester because they all felt the same as I did. While at Belmont, I have met some amazing people, but that is not why I am going to school. I picked Belmont back in September of my senior year of High School because I hoped it was everything they promised. Freedom, the ability to chose the path we wish to pursue with film, take classes that will help further our field of study, etc. I can say after the first semester, it is far from it. I learned more from staying huddled up in my dorm room, watching video essay after video essay, reading articles regarding camera techniques, taking photos and videos at every possibility to perfect my craft. So far, everything has been the opposite. I soon learned that Belmont may not have been the place for me, but I was willing to keep giving it a chance.

As the first semester went along, I joined a fraternity in hopes of meeting friends to help enjoy my college experience. That part remains true. Through Phi Kappa Tau Zeta Alpha Chapter, I have met some of the most extraordinary people: To my big and one of my best friends, Tommy Kessler, Devin Green, Andrew Jacobsohn and so many more that I cannot think of at the moment. However, as stated previously, the main reason why I came to Belmont was for education purposes and they have not met the standards I was promised.

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Kansas City is amazing. As cliche as a word “amazing” is, there is just not another word to describe it. I went through 7 years thinking I needed to escape boring Kansas, the bland Kansas, the nothing to do Kansas. I was wrong and I disrespected that city. I never once thought of exploring the city and believing in the magic that it held. I first started to discover this magic during the 2015 World Series. The hometown team, The Kansas City Royals, were facing off against The New York Mets. This was the second year in a row the Royals had been in the World Series, having lost the previous year to the Giants in 7 games (if only Gordon had rounded third…). Throughout the series, the bats of the Royals brought in come back after come back after come back win until we were champs in 5 games. The World Series Parade was held on November 3rd and I wanted to witness it first hand. Seeing the players come down Main Street with their families, and being around close to a million of the best Royals fans in the country, was something to behold. That single 2 weeks, sparked my interest in the city. I adventured around Lenexa, Shawnee, Merriam, KCK, KCMO, Westport, North KC, and anywhere where the light was shining. I look back at it now, and I ask myself “Why did I leave this place?”

After I left Kansas City on August 18th, I thought I never would see it again. My dad accepted a new job at a Country Club in Charlotte, NC. Papa Bado is a very respected man, who has many sayings. They range from “Because I am the King” all the way to my personal favorite “Today it the biggest day of your life, because you will never get it back.” Recently, he had adopted a new one: “The Journey Continues”. At first glance, I did not take it seriously or gave it much thought. Over time, I analyzed it and I understood what he meant by it. Leaving KC, I thought I would never go back. It was a tough goodbye, but the journey continues.

I was finally able to come back and stay Kansas City for the last 7 days of winter break before school started on January 9th. Being back in the place you love most, is indescribable. I had not stepped foot in that city since I left, and everything felt the same as when I left. I knew every street name still, how much distance was from Mill Creek Running Trails on 79th to the Papa Murphy’s on 87th and Lackmen. I went to my favorite movie theater and saw Manchester by the Sea and went to a newly renovated one to see La La Land in one of the best movie experiences I have ever witnessed. Downtown is still the same sprawling excitement of art as when I left it. To quote an anonymous tweet that I saw back a few weeks ago, “going to the Nelson and some coffee shop in Westport does not count as ‘exploring KC’…also being on your phone while hammocking in Shawnee Mission Park isn’t ‘adventuring’”. Adventuring around KC means finding new things to do, something that you and very few people know about. I have two handful of things that only me and about two other people know about and it is a secret I will always keep to myself.

I kept all this information between me and my parents for a long time due to the matter being very personal. I did not include my friends, brother, teachers and sister because I did not want any outside forces influencing my decision. When I first started question my choices, I did not even tell my parents. I wanted to be 100% certain before I decided on anything and as I sat in my car the Monday after winter break, sweating bullets as I called my dad, was the most stressful part of college thus far. All I want in life is support from my family, and I have it from them. I tend to tote my ego around with my videos and pictures because I seek approval, but this was something I just wanted to be over with. The burden that this was causing me affected my moods and caused unnecessary stress in my life and I am relieved it is finally over. I tried thinking about what would be the best possible way to tell everyone all at the same time. I do not do well with confrontation, so I am hiding behind this letter. It may not be the best of ways, but it is the way that I am most comfortable with.

I am coming home. After this semester finishes up, I will be transferring to UMKC to pursue my career in film and media.

I cannot lie, this was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. Throughout my life, I have faced adversity and even though I had been timid at times, I was always willing to face it. In my 19.5 years of living, I have gone through speech therapy for 6+ years, had to be held back because of my speech impediment, lived in 5 different states, gone to 9 different schools (soon to be 10) including 5 in 6 years, suffered severe depression during junior and senior year (which included 6 months of agonizing therapy), had my heart broken, became a complete failure at track during my senior season, experienced losses, disappointment, success and some of the happiest times of my life. I am thankful for the support of my parents as I begin my next step in my education post High School and also my brother and sister who at times know I can be a little bit of a drama queen, but when it comes down to this, they know I have the right intentions.

With honor, integrity, closure, and on no one’s terms but my own- the door closes.

And another opens-

I am excited to be back in the city that has presented me with so many opportunities to succeed, to be back with my mentor who has taught my everything I know about filming and with my other mentor who taught me everything about taking photos. To everyone at Belmont that I have met, you’ve helped me become a better man of character and showed me what it truly means to better myself because those are both traits I did not have when I first set foot on Belmont’s campus back in August. But it is time for me to leave the nest, and go back to the motherland and bring with me the valuable lessons I learned with my time here and further them beyond the expectations that they were set for me. I do not wanna lose the friendships I have made while at Belmont because it is a bond that cannot be broken. I know a thing or two about long distance relationships/friendships.

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Fiction. Friction. Creation. Destruction. Opposition. Aggression. Ambition. Heart. Hate. Courage. Spite. Beauty. Desperation. LOVE. Fear. Glamour. Weakness. Hope.

Fatalism.

Love and fatalism are key contributors.

Love. I love my brother and for my entire life, he has been my best friend. He has been the go to guy for when I was sad, happy, angry or when I needed to be checked due to my arrogance. When he left for Belmont, a certain dark hole opened up in my that I rarely ever talk about. A piece of my life was missing for a good portion of 3 years. I counted down the days till the next time I saw him and I remember balling my eyes out in my room when I heard he would not be returning home after sophomore year. The exact instagram caption was “I DID ADULT THINGS AND I WILL BE LIVING ADVENTURING IN NASHVILLE THIS SUMMER #chiefstent”. I was happy for him but hated him all at the same time. The black soul sucking hole that opened up in me become a demon that I could not shake. The only clarity in my moment of despair was being with him. I partially chose Belmont because I wanted to be with my brother. 3 years had past and the inescapable dungeon that I felt locked up in was finally open, and I wanted this year to be made up for lost time.

Fatalism. I never once thought I would transfer. Partially, my ego and pride were keeping me here. I wanted to be known as one of those kids who “escaped their town and went on to become something greater”. However, it seems as if everything in my life has been predetermined by that ego and pride. Pride never helps, it only hurts. I let them get in the way of track senior year, in turn I did not qualify for state. I let them get in the way of my school work, I did poorly in one class senior year. I let them get in the way of a college decision, and now I am regretting it. Whenever I let them get in the way of success, it comes back to bite me in a most vicious way. Due to me letting my ego and pride get in the way of arguably the biggest decision of my life, I should have expected the inevitable. I am owning up to my faults, and hopefully this sort of event never happens again.

In closing, I want to thank every single friend/colleague/acquaintance. I have learned from you, maybe more than you think you’ve learned from me. My only regret is that I am awful with names and bad with goodbyes. But I never forget a face, or a feeling- and that is what I have left from all of you.
I feel love.

Since I am bad with goodbyes. I refuse to let this be one.

Love,

-Chandler

Striving to be great

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