To sum up this past weekend best, I’ll say that, Chicago is a big city but it’s such a small world. The whirlwind that was this past weekend- and really week- reminded me of both of these concepts. Take today (Sunday night is when I’m writing this) for instance. Within an hour of waking up I found myself on a bus around the city, only to trek all the way back to discover just what a small world it really is. In my own neighborhood Starbucks, I ran into the younger brother, Brad, of my dear college friend, Jenni. (aka “BaFaFa). Brad was in town visiting friends for the weekend and our run-in was completely unexpected and A.MAY.ZING. Isn’t that the best?!!!
With Laura in town this weekend for the second interview, my weekend was devoted to showing her around. It was better than that sounds but also the culprit of my exhaustion…and the reason for my 3-hour nap this afternoon. I woke up groggy, maybe a little refreshed, thinking where I was and, more importantly, who I was with this weekend.
Over the course of the past 2 days, I have been with or spoken to all sorts of friends: old friends, new friends, friends-of-friends (now my friends), friends from high school, friends from college, friends from Columbus, and family.
Here I am, in the 3rd largest city in the US, having come here 2 years ago knowing less than a handful of people, and I run into a familiar smiling face from my past at my Starbucks four blocks from my apartment. Most of you are probably thinking, what’s so special about that? It happens to me all the time? Well, it used to happen to me all the time too, but not anymore. To say I miss that is truly an understatement.
Being in this city, surrounded by unfamiliar faces- that are not always friendly- makes me feel foolish for going out of my way to avoid people at our community venues (back in Hampton) all those times. Some day I’d give anything to just casually run into a former teacher at Target, a former teammate while running at the park or even arrange a coffee date with a former friend/classmate. I guess it’s true that you long for the things you once had when they’re no longer available to you.
Gosh, if my friend, Matt (MT), read this I would never hear the end of it. Actually I spoke with him last night and some of this stuff came up, and his teasing definitely did as well. Although I’m at the point now where I can fire back and it doesn’t bother me as much. As I’ve shared in past posts, there was a time in my life- during college- when I decided that I wanted to break-up with my past life. I didn’t want anything to do with Hampton. I wanted a change. I wanted to change. I regret that time in my life and now realize that it was foolish of me; however, it is once again proof that you live & learn.
It’s funny how things change. I’m not sure if I’m laughing about it, but I think the way my life has gone, thus far, I definitely see the irony. For instance, as a teenager I used to daydream of living in NYC…but realistically never thought I’d end up there. At that time I figured I’d be in Pittsburgh, dating my latest crush, and being friends with the same friends- that are now no longer my friends. In college I knew I’d never go back to Pittsburgh and was destined to live in (Columbus,) Ohio for the rest of my life. Then Chicago came and the struggle has finally somewhat seized, and while I miss my family (in Pgh) and friends (mostly back in Ohio), I’m actually realizing how great it is to be in Chicago and have visiting guests and random run-ins with my Ohio folk in Starbucks.
Is staying here in Chicago actually my solution for having the balance of my past and the future I desire?
I do still think about moving back to Columbus, Ohio, wondering what it would be like. I know that after living here that it would be very, very different, but would I like it? Would I fit in? I could ask these questions again and again, leading myself down the never-ending road of frustration, but why bother?
I’m finally understanding that life isn’t about the minute-by-minute plans nor the timelines. There’s no rule book on how to do things, and no penalty if you don’t accomplish those societal standard checklist items by a certain age or at all. Life is about the little things; the precious moments; the unexpected joys. It’s about follow your passions and acting spontaneously in the moment. It’s about choosing to go on a weekend roadtrip to your college town with friends. Or deciding to enroll in grad school to pursue the job that you know you’re meant to do. It’s about falling in love at first sight with a guy you never thought was ‘your type’ and enjoying those butterflies that you get when he’s around. It’s about running into an old friend in a big city and having a smile on your face the next day, realizing just how wonderful that unexpected moment truly was.
It may be a small world (after all), but it’s a life full of many opportunities.