Michigan. I’m now in Michigan. The Ohio girl in me cringes just saying that. Anyways, my trip around the Midwest is continuing, and also not letting up anytime soon either. It’s exhausting just thinking about the past few weeks (maybe even past two months) and the coming weeks as well- Memphis, TN and Athens, OH (home to my alma mater) are the next weekend trips. You may ask, where am I getting the energy for all of this traveling? Honestly, I have no idea. Pure adrenaline is the only rational response. Oh, and maybe Starbucks. Come on, you had to assume that I’ve been using that to fuel me these days; however, not as much as you’d think.
Right now I’m sitting here on the train to Michigan, for a weekend at the lake house with one of my favorite families in the world, The MacPhersons. They were one of the many families in Columbus that has taken me in since living there almost 3 years ago. I still remember the first time I met them. Jen was another AmeriCorps member at CHA and we almost-instantly became friends due to her huge heart and our shared passion for Barnes & Nobles. (lol). I can still picture the moment that Jen invited me for a post-Thanksgiving meal at her parents’ house. “My mom makes the best sweet potatoes (casserole).” Sold. I made my first of many ventures to Gahanna (a suburb of Columbus) and met the lovely MacPhersons, and indulged in some of Mr. Mac’s homemade red wine. Jen and I spent the evening watching movies and learning more about one another- outside of work. I think it was the night that I really fell in love with my life in Columbus. Up until that point, almost all of my friends in the city were ones from OU.
Even some of my current best friends didn’t know me a few years ago, so in hopes of helping others I’m going to share this with you all. When I was living in Columbus working at Children’s Hunger Alliance as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, I had a breakdown. I was twenty-four years old and I had a breakdown. Kind of crazy just thinking about it, but honestly, with this day and age, I don’t think it’s that surprising. My breakdown was mostly caused by being overworked/overstressed in my job. I was working too much, but I couldn’t stop myself. My anxiety levels were maxed out, and unfortunately I was even abandoning good friends of mine because I simply couldn’t manage it all. The worst of part of it is that I almost lost one of my best friends, Kristin, because I just wasn’t at all myself. Above all else, I see myself as the best friend you could ever have (if you let me). My friends are everything to me, and I’m just thankful that Kristin (as well as the others) were patient with me during my breakdown.
The move to Chicago was a blessing in disguise. At the time it caused me more anxiety because I had no intention in leaving Columbus (my home) and my friends (my rocks). But God had other plans for me, and amidst fighting it a bit, I listened to my heart and knew it was what I had to do. As I’ve said time and time again, I have no regrets moving to Chicago because it has given me time to learn more about myself and my capabilities. I have grown more than I could possibly imagine, and so no matter how difficult the times have been, I am grateful for this whole adventure. I am who I am today because of all of the struggles, bad days, and challenges I’ve overcome.
Friends have been worrying about me lately, and with my zombie-mode this past week I can finally understand why. I’m beat, but somehow I’m keeping myself going. This is just me. This is how I am. I like staying busy. I like doing things for friends, and experiencing new things. This makes me think of my dear friend and Pen Pal, Alisha, and a post she had on her blog earlier in the week. Check it out! I used to be a lot like Alisha- and still am in several ways. As I shared with her, I used to live with a lot of regrets- the whole Casey scenario being the big one. My anxiety prevented me… (scratch that) I prevented myself from doing a lot of things that I dreamed of doing. Now I just regret the things I regret not doing. My motto has become: Do the things that you’d regret not doing.
I cannot remember exactly when it was, before or after moving to Chicago, but Jen said this to me and it’s stuck in my mind since: Sometimes you have to get lost to find your way. I’ve been lost (a lot) in the past, and between you and me, I still feel a bit lost. But the difference between then and now is that I know I’m on my way. The destination isn’t completely clear, but I’m learning more and more to embrace that. Life is a journey; and adventure. If I can certainly say that live in Chicago has been an adventure for me- a very crazy adventure.
Staring out the window on this train I cannot help but wonder how I got here. I smile. Smile knowing that I would have always wondered ‘what if’ and lived with so much regret if I had not taken this chance.
And for instance I most likely wouldn’t have been on a train to the MacPherson’s lakehouse for a relaxing weekend with some of the most amazing people I know. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I’ll check in again when I have a chance- including another final post on Julie’s wedding last weekend.
Note: I wrote this earlier in the morning, on the train, but just had a chance to post it in the evening. The rest was written after arriving in New Buffalo, Michigan.
With the past few weeks that I’ve been having, actually maybe months, I was surprised at how awake I felt when I arrived at the New Buffalo train station at 10 am (ET) this morning. I was immediately flabbergasted by the simple beauty of this town- and I was only at the train station! I describe it as a mix between Starrs Hollow (from Gilmore Girls) and Stone Harbor, NJ (my family’s vacation spot, which we will be visiting in August).
Jen and I spent the day riding around in the golf cart; spending time at her Grandma’s pool with her cousins; visiting with the extended- MacPherson family; eating fantastic food at all meals. Living the lifestyle, right? The MacPhersons are always good to me and I honestly see them as part of my family now.
We ended the evening by stopping at the fair for Elephant Ears/ Funnel Cake with Jen’s sister, Kate, and her boyfriend, Scott. It was in a place called Michiana…love the name. Though it doesn’t hold a candle to my Chibus- the perfect combo-city of my Chicago and beloved Columbus. I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo of the sign.
Here are a few photos from the fair, which Dan (Jen’s brother) correctly described as “White Trash Central”, with comments next to them.
Has anyone else noticed how crazy-looking carnis are? I told Jen, some of them look exactly like the schizo-homeless men in my Chicago neighborhood. I’m not kidding. The more I saw, the creepier they looked.
P.S. Alisha, I definitely thought of you when I saw the giraffe stuffed animal and had to take the photo.