A series of four panel comics, all rendered in magenta and green. ON SILVER LININGS: In the first panel, Emily, eyes half-lidded, scoops coffee grounds into a coffee maker. The narration begins: "I'm exhausted but trying to stay more hopeful again." In the second panel, Emily sits at her desk, laptop and notepad in front of her. Her eyes are closed, and she takes a long sip of coffee from a mug. The narration continues: "It feels naive, maybe, to try to find silver linings in days like these." In the third panel, a corded rope frays and breaks in a fan. The narration continues: "But I can only write so much about the stress of a sustained crisis, of sustained crises, before all that's left of me are tatters." In the fourth panel, we see Emily at her desk once more, eyes still closed and holding a mug of steaming coffee out in front of her. The narration concludes: "So I think, I think, I want to seek hope again. ON ASSUMING A LINEAR THEORY OF TIME 1: In the first panel, Emily walks down a city street, flanked by her parents. The narration begins: "I'm processing what it means to walk down this street again," as Emily says to her dad "There's a ramp up ahead, that's the entrance," to which he replies "gotcha." In the second panel, Emily reaches for a door handle. The narration continues: "Can this moment be a return if, at some point—" In the third and forth panels, Emily is seen in profile, split in half by the frame. The first half is colored in magenta and green, while the second half is colored in orange and blue. In the second half, Emily also has long hair: this is her in 2020. The narration across the panels reads: "I had considered these moments—the hope of these moments—confined to a different time, a different future." ON ASSUMING A LINEAR THEORY OF TIME 2: In the first panel, Emily sits at a table with her parents, a stylish bookshelf behind them. Her mom comments on the decor: "It looks nice!" while Emily replies with a begrudging "It's not supposed to look nice." The narration begins: "And this building—" In the second panel, Emily and her parents are in the theater. Emily stares at the stage, saying "is this stage shorter? No, that's dumb" as the narration continues: "God, I know buildings mean nothing—" In the third panel, Emily turns to talk to her mom: "Sorry mom, I'm just—how dumb, crying in an improv theater..." while the narration continues: "But it's not about the physical place and instead about the moments it held—" In the fourth panel, the color palette has shifted again to orange and blue: the past. Emily sits in the same theater, waiting for the show to start, smiling contentedly: safe and at peace. The narration concludes: "A place and a people I swam to when I felt like I was drowning in fear—drowning within myself." ON ASSUMING A LINEAR THEORY OF TIME 3: In the first panel, the color palette is still orange and blue, still the moment in 2020. Emily laughs heartily, sparkles flying off of her. The narration begins: "It was magic—" In the second panel, we're back to the present, in magenta and green. Emily laughs, echoing the previous panel. The narration continues: "is magic still—" In the third panel, performers in silhouette are seen on stage, as Emily looks at her mom expectantly: the look of someone hoping the company they brought to a show is enjoying it. The narration continues: "Against the odds of three tumultuous years." In the fourth panel, sparkles still emit from Emily as she looks at her parents on either side of her. She's practically bouncing as she asks, "ok ok Mom, Dad: what do you guys think so far?" The narration concludes: "And now I finally get to share that with more people I love." ON VULNERABILTY In the first panel, Emily stands in profile, looking nervous. The narration begins: "Just talk." In the second panel, Emily's discomfort has grown: her shoulders are raised and her brow is even more furrowed. The narration continues: "Just—come on. I know being vulnerable sucks but in order to find connection, you have to. You don't have to carry it all." In the third panel, Emily leans forward, starting to speak. The narration continues: "Please, I know you're scared—I know trusting again is still so hard but you can and your friends deserve it." In the fourth panel, Emily's shoulders fall as she deflates, closing her eyes. The narration concludes: "Okay. Okay. It's ok. You'll try again." ON CHEERS In the first panel, five hands holding five shot glasses reach in as, off panel, everyone shouts "Cheers!" The narration begins: "I'm starting to understand why traditions last." In the second panel, some of the group is visible: Emily, Ty and Stella are all visibly recoiling from what they've drank. Emily and Ty are identified as living in Chicago for 3 years and yet have never had Malort; Stella is identified as having lived in Chicago for 1 year with the same qualifier. Emily remarks "Ok it wasn't bad at first but now it SUCKS," as Kevin leans in from the side of the panel and says "Yeah, that's how it gets you." The narration continues: "Even the stupid ones." In the third panel, we see the other half of the group: Kelly holds a shot and is also reacting to its contents, as Stella and Kevin look over. She says "you never really get used to it," as the narration continues: "Because when they're upheld in good company—" In the fourth panel, Emily yells "why does it keep getting WORSE though," as everyone commiserates, Kevin and Kelly nodding in long-time Chicagoan understanding. The narration concludes: "All of a sudden, they're anchored with meaning."

Thanks as always for reading.