Last weekend, my company flew me to Chicago for a company-wide summit. It was something that I have known about for months and Dean even booked his own flights so that he could accompany me, share the hotel room and see some friends.
The previous two weeks had also been quite full. Dean and I spent the long weekend of the 4th with my parents in Alabama. The weekend before, his parents had stayed with us from Peoria. (I also took my CPT test that weekend.) I had an extra full week before flying to Chicago on Thursday and preparations were rushed. People would ask me if I was looking forward to the trip, but really, I hadn’t a chance to think about it because it was all I could do to keep up. I only let a few friends know that I was going to be in town. I couldn’t even really tell them when I would be available other than ‘sometime Friday night and sometime Saturday night’ because I wasn’t sure when the seminars were ending and if we had dinner obligations, etc. Anyone who visited me would have to come downtown to the hotel.
The Summit itself was great. The presenters were amazing and knowledgeable. The keynote speakers were captivating and relevant. And it was good to see some people from my company that I used to teach for that I hadn’t seen since being promoted to where I am. It was good to feel like I wasn’t on an island. I also met a lot of new people that I hope to keep in touch with.
Being back in Chicago was more of a mind trick than I had anticipated. I got off the plane and knew where to go. Even though I had never been to this particular hotel before, I knew about where it was and how to get there. I’ve been in Nashville since March and without GPS, I can get to work downtown, work at Title and the grocery store. It was nice to know my way around. When I did training runs in the morning, I knew which direction to run in to hit the lake and about how far I needed to go to get in the mileage I needed. (It was also a beautiful weekend in Chicago; low humidity and sunshine.)
In spite of the short notice, I had friends come to visit both nights. Of course it was nice just to see and talk to them, but it was also nice to be in the presence of people with whom I had an established relationship. Dean and I have started to make friends in Nashville (and it’s great!) but there’s something comfortable about sitting with someone that you’ve weathered years with. At one point my friend Carolyn said, “It’s just so weird that you don’t live here anymore!” And it was.
When I got home, I was exhausted. Not just from the packed weekend, but from the go go go of the weeks leading up to it as well. I decided to let myself have the day. I did some laundry and some dishes, but otherwise just read all day. I didn’t do any writing, studying or cooking. I’m an introvert, so I need my recharge time and I figured that’s what I was giving myself. The next day I was still out of it. I told myself “after I teach this first class I’ll feel better… after I teach the second class… after I finish this training run… etc.” I got through the day, but still felt … melancholy.
Fortunately, (unfortunately?) I’ve had a lot of crap happen to me this year, so I eventually recognized that this was not going away and that I just needed to let myself feel it, look at it, and eventually I’d be back to myself. Push through work, push through workouts, push through the things you HAVE to do, then give yourself a break. (The first couple of times this happened after I moved - post fire, post grandma - I thought that I’d lost my mojo and I was turning into a less motivated person.) It took about two and a half days.
I had been very established in Chicago. I had connections, I could move around, I knew where things were, I knew who to talk to, et cetera and so on. I had to remind myself that I was there for nineteen years and that it didn’t happen overnight. Although I will always consider myself to be from New Orleans, I spent almost as much time in Chicago. I spent more of my adult life in Chicago. I worked for so long to get out of it, I never considered that I would miss it. And July is a beautiful time to be in Chicago. I remember thinking to myself that my life was wonderful in the summer there. But Chicago has incredibly short summers.
The friends that I saw were the ones that I was always able to count on. And they will still be my friends from far away. We will still see each other, it will just take more planning. Friends like that are earned, and I know that I will earn friends like that in Nashville. It will just take time.
I didn’t think I’d ever say it, but I guess I miss you a little bit, Chicago. Thanks for letting me visit.