After a 6 am flight from Memphis, I finally made it back to Chicago earlier this morning. I have absolutely no intention of leaving this apartment today and enjoying this 1-day weekend of mine. Tomorrow is Monday….rut-roh….but I’m not going to waste this day complaining about that.
I have to give a shout-out to my friends in the South for this wonderful hospitality and general kindness. Also, for sharing their love for grits with me! While everyone was wonderful down there, two Southern Belles looked out for me: Sondra and Donna. Now both ladies were on my canceled flight yesterday and had the pleasure of accompanying me on the 6 am-er this morning.
One of the topics of conversation was none other than my life in Chicago. Once again I found myself giving the “living in Chicago is different then visiting” and them agreeing and supporting this “experience” in my life. I had a relevation during our morning coffee talk (Starbucks of course). Sondra, who has lived in Mississippi her entire life and was a young mother (as a teenager, I believe), found my lone-adventure to the big city quite admirable and uttering the infamous line, “I wish I had the courage to do that.” I used to say the same thing to people, like Ruth and Jay, who took the initiative to explore and ride the roller coaster of life. They are my inspirations and the reasons I looked fear in the face and said “I just don’t care” and made the move to The Windy City (gasp) almost 2 years ago! But as I opened up with to Sondra and and Donna, and Adriana imfamously said to me a few weeks ago, I think that Chicago is slowly breaking up with me, meaning my time here is ticking away. You live and you learn, and sometimes you learn that it’s just not what you want or what you need.
After arriving at O’Hare Airport, I found myself on the train with one of Chicago’s many crazies. No exaggeration, this guy was I.N.S.A.N.E. In a matter of 2 minutes, he was playing the harmonica, dancing around the train car, reciting some sort of religious prophecy, and talking to someone. Oh it feels (fill in adjective) to be ‘home’.
The commute to my apartment wasn’t all bad as I found myself talking with a fellow airport commuter, Monica. We had a great conversation about life in Chicago and the reality of the world we live in. She shared something with me that her aunt said to her when she moved to the city 13 years ago: You cannot be a perfectionist any longer. Riddle me this, riddle me that. As I discovered, Monica is a lot like me and I understand what she meant by this advice.
Call it morning grogginess or downright exhaustion, but I said something to Monica that I really haven’t voiced to another stranger before (other than my blog network, but hey, we’re friends now.) Anyways, I said that Chicago has made me cold and bitchier. I’m not my social self here, unlike how I am back in Pittsburgh, Ohio, and even in other cities (like Memphis, for example). Immediately upon my relocation I was shocked by the lack of manners people have as the thank you’s were rare and doors were literally slamming in my face left-to-right. Also, as I’ve mentioned to other friends, I swear I can sense crazy here. Like the guy on the train today, even before any word was said or harmonica was played, I sensed something was off- even before fully looking at him. I feel like I always have to be on guard here, never knowing when someone is going to snap. (Not kidding.)
I’m not myself here because I don’t feel like I can be. How can I call this my ‘home’ if I feel that way?
Pure and simple, I cannot. These past few days a lot of people have asked me where I’m from, and without thinking I have responded, each and every time, “I am currently living in Chicago.” Anyone want to psychoanalyze that response?
I could probably go on and on, but I think a workout is more important that my rambling, so I’ll spare you. But I’ll leave you with this:
I constantly stress the importance of my friends and family and the influence that they have on me. I look to them for advice, guidance, and support. They are soundboards for my random thoughts and anxiety-riddent emotional breakdowns. I never feel like I can thank them enough, and so I will continue.
However, I rarely point out the influence that strangers and random folks have on me. Today is just one example of the people that touch my life in unexpected ways. Sondra, Donna, and Monica are just three of those people that have helped me see things in a different light. In a way they’ve helped me grow by forcing me to re-connect with myself and possibly change my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
People come into our lives every day, and some we converse with, while others we observe. Rarely do we realize the impact that these people have on us because we’re too caught up in our own little world. Cough…cell phones…cough.
This weekend, I realized how I’m looking for answers, or perhaps approval, from certain people in my life- my mom being one of them. But today I sit here reminded that the only approval I need is from myself. I have the answers within, but I just need to listen to me more.
The stuff that we go through in life- the negative and the knocks- we can choose to take us down, or we can choose to stand up or rise up and make us even more brillant and beautiful. (Mia Michaels, So You Think You Can Dance)