The brunette would wake up the next day, surprisingly enough, not hungover, still in her apartment, and properly clothed. Dakota smiled to herself. Clubbing with Monique was surprisingly fun. The two went to the Studio Paris Nightclub, reminiscent of her days of being in college; Phillip had to pick up a very drunk Dakota from here one night, years ago. It was there that Monique revealed that she was 23 and in graduate school at UChicago studying Developmental Psychology. While she was currently a manager at the camera store, she only pursued photography as a hobby. Upon hearing that Dakota was a marketing executive, Monique beamed with amusement. She admitted that Dakota seemed very withdrawn and timid for somebody who had to make opinionated decisions and take so much initiative. They had a lot of fun at the club, mostly just dancing, sipping a couple drinks, and after realizing how loud the club was getting, going to a nearby convenience store to continue their conversation. Both of them admitted that they do not like to club or party a lot, and that they are the types of people who preferred spending their weekend nights indoors, watching movies, and devouring gallon tubs of ice cream, a ritual that they promised to partake together the following week.
It was Saturday, and Dakota felt excited. It was a new opportunity for her to finally use her camera. Walking around the lake, she decided to start there. Even though it was still fairly cold outside, and there were no boats in the lake at the moment, the brunette still found an empty lake to look peaceful and appealing to her. She continued to walk around the area, eagerly snapping photos, trying different angles and focuses as she went. Flipping through her photos, Dakota gasped. She never bothered to check the pictures on the memory card beforehand. There were photos that were taken by Phillip on there. Of her graduation. Dakota was sporting a maroon and black robe, a black cap, smiling with her pledge sisters, then another with her parents, then the one that really made her tear up, a photo of the her with Phillip. The brunette was uncertain of what to do. Should she delete the picture? Deciding against it, she turned off the camera. She needed to upload these photos, and then put them somewhere she will not get distracted, Maybe a Dropbox or USB? She will figure something out. She just did not want immediate access.
Finally uploading the old photos to a USB and her new ones to her iPhoto app, Dakota sighed in relief as she put the USB in one of her closet boxes. As much as she wanted to move on, she just was not ready to let go of those old memories. The brunette had tried to confront her feelings, but every time she saw pictures of Phillip, she broke down, crying. She missed him and for some strange reason, she felt guilty and angry. Guilty that she could not do anything to save him, and angry about how helpless she felt, feeling like some damsel in distress waiting for her prince who will never come. At this point, she felt herself hyperventilating again. It was coming: a panic attack. “No!” She cried through her gritted teeth. She had to stop herself from making this worse. Getting up, she grabbed her camera, headed for the hallway, and slammed the apartment door shut. Whenever she thought about him, Dakota felt like the best solution was to get away from the apartment. Being in there just reminded her too much of him.
Dakota decided to go to Millennium Park, and enjoy her time in the area. And that mostly consisted of her taking photos of the Cloud Gate, The large, shiny, curved structure was typically crowded with tourists during the summer, and she could not help but chuckle at herself for looking no different than them with her DSLR camera. Even though she felt like a tourist herself, that sort of awkwardness did not stop Dakota from enjoying herself. She was having too much fun, capturing her memories and adventures. Exploring the world around her, and being able to carrying that with her in the form of her photos, it was fun! It made her happy to finally find an engaging hobby that took her mind and focus away from him. She was too busy trying to take that perfect photo that it preoccupied her mind in a rather productive way.
“Hey, are you still around?” Dakota looked at her phone. She was walking around the city at this point, looking for a place to grab lunch. It was a FaceBook Messenger notification from one of her pledge sisters, Veronica. “Hey, V! Still around Chicago? Yes, I am! How are you?” She sent back. “I’m good! I’m actually visiting this weekend, if you’re free, we should totally catch up!” The brunette grinned at her suggestion. “Yeah, sure! Are you doing anything for dinner?” “No!” “Perfect, let’s have dinner at 6? You can choose the place!” The brunette was brimming with joy at this point. Another person to help get her mind off of him. More company to pull her forward with her life. Until recently, Dakota always identified herself as antisocial. But it looks like her tendencies are changing. She’s starting to see it herself. She’s never been so eager to talk to others, but now she just wants to fill her life with new people, new friends, and make new experiences to replace the old ones.
It was finally time for dinner, and the two agreed to meet at Spiaggia, a renowned restaurant on Magnificent Mile, cited to be one of the Obama’s favorite places. Dakota had her eyes set on finding a skinny freckled blonde: Veronica Kinsworth, her pledge sister. “Hey, Dakota!” She turned around to see a skinny freckled blonde run up to her. “V!” The two hugged. “I haven’t seen you in forever! What brings you back to Chicago?” She smiled at her. “I’m here for a revenue management seminar!” Veronica explained: she was a price analyst for CostCo, so she was in charge of doing price and revenue management for the East Coast branches company in Sterling, Virginia. “Yeah, I could have sworn you moved to D.C. last I checked.” Dakota laughed. “Well, it’s more like moving back to D.C. I’m from Virginia anyways, remember?” The blonde reminded her, laughing. “But yeah, how have you been? I haven’t seen you in forever!” The brunette considered telling Veronica everything. But after quickly weighing her options, decided against that. It made no sense spilling all of these details when she was still not emotionally strong enough to handle the potential rise or reaction she would get from V: she did not want to reunite with a friend and get pitied immediately. Dakota was too prideful for that.
Dinner went along relatively quickly. The two sat and continued talking, although Dakota decided that it was best to make Veronica do the majority of the answering and responding, so she continuously asked the blonde visitor questions. By the end of the night, Dakota knew everything about Veronica’s recent life, from the boys she considered and actually have dated to which co-workers she secretly hated, and her biggest regrets in college and her hopes for the near future, including getting married, having two beautiful daughters, and a labradoodle, and moving to New York City. All the while, Veronica did not learn anything about what happened to Dakota.