If home is truly where the heart is, then Ohio will always be home.
Lately, as the thirties continue to make me more maternal and sentimental than I ever imagined being, I’ve been realizing more and more that my heart has been stranded there since I relocated to Chicago nearly five years ago.
And after a phone call from one of my best friends tonight, who is now a proud papa, I’m anxiously awake trying to gather my thoughts (by typing them out) and missing my friends back in Ohio.
Now I’m not going to sit here and go on and on about how A*MAY*ZING my college years in Ohio were because I’ve done than dozens of times on this blog before. But rather, I feel myself in being pulled back by my love for Ohio- mainly the people there that I love- and trying to fight the urge to go back to the place I once called home (even though my hometown is technically Pittsburgh, PA).
Here I am, thirty-years old and engaged to a great guy, not to be mention that I am living in one of the greatest cities in the world. That being said, there isn’t a thing I can complain about.
But as I mentioned in my last post, being in your late twenties/ thirties brings about its own set of growing up challenges. Life is no longer about being able to go out until 2 AM (or 4 AM here in Chicago) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Instead, weekends are about visiting with family and friends, catching up on work deadlines, and resting up for the week ahead.
That being said, with the large majority of my (closest) friends living in Ohio and other non-Chicago cities, it’s becoming hard for me to adjust to changes in my life without my friends nearby to join me for the ride.
So here it is, once again: Chicago vs. Ohio. With Cubby’s whole life here in Chicago, not to mention his goals and dreams as well, it doesn’t seem possible that Ohio will be incorporated into our plans.
But, is that what I want?
I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out.
Lately it seems like I’m trying to figure out a lot of things about my life. #cheerstogrowing up #thirties
A.MAY.ZING. That is the only way to describe this past weekend’s road trip back to Columbus, OH. Exhausted, I’m sitting here debating whether to let my tired mind ramble on and on about the festivities or simply write: This weekend was, by far, (one of) the best weekend I’ve ever had in Columbus. Let me reinstate that I lived in the city for over a year and there have definitely been some memorable moments in Buckeye Country since first visiting 7 years ago. Okay, that’s it. Let me give you the details instead of just writing that it was A.MAY.ZING. But it really was quite A.MAY.ZING….because of all the people I spent it with. So, to each and every one of you- Stef, Jen, Kristin, Jim, Jay, Ashley, Nicky, Tony, Brandon, Ryan, Charlie, and many new friends, etc.- THANK YOU!
Where do I even begin? The beginning, I guess, sounds like a good start. So the beginning of our trip to Columbus would be when Stef and I ventured downtown to catch our 10 pm Megabus. I could tell you about some of the shenanigans of our overnight bus trip, but instead I”ll leave it at- what happens on Megabus, stays on Megabus. Well I’ll just say that if it wasn’t so cheap and convenient, then I’d probably have stopped riding it by now. With a feel restless hours of ‘sleep’ under our belts, and a whole lot of thinking & stressing for me, we landed at the intersection of High St. and Nationwide Blvd. around 6:30 am and immediately made our way to the hotel (aka our home for the weekend). Although excitement was seeping through our veins, we opted for a little napping before we caffeinated ourselves with Starbucks and fueling with lunch at North Market.
After crepes in Goodale Park (my backyard when living in my first C-bus apartment), Jen picked us up and carted our carless butts to (drumroll please) Easton!!! I was (so happy that I had the chance to introduce Stef to Easton- my retail sanctuary for therapy. We stopped at all the basics- H&M, Forever XXI, Buckeye Corner– and ironically and completely unexpected, ran into a former Hampton classmate of ours. It’s a small world. After buying new shoes (and a hat for me), we settled for some (more) caffeine and snacks at ‘bucks and sat outside to enjoy the rest of the cool fall afternoon.
You know, for me, that was one of the most memorable moments of the weekend- and just only because I was sober. Sitting there, enjoying the breeze, Stef’s company, and being back in Columbus was one of those rare moments were I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Telling Stef more about Columbus and engaging in soul-searching & eye-opening conversations like we always do, I found myself back in love with the city- believing that I could actually see myself back there again. Maybe?
Jen picked up her carpool (us) again and we headed back downtown for an evening out in my old stomping grounds. Stef’s friend, Lindsey, and her brother, Mike, drove down from Cleveland and joined us for dinner. Soon I was graced by the presence of my partner-in-crime, Kristin, and the rest of the weekend is a blur. Thanks Kristin! (I actually mean that!)
Heading to the Arena District, we began our adventures by meeting Jen’s friend, Kelly, at O’Shaughnessey’s– one of my favorite bars and full of memories (mainly with Sarah). After a(nother) glass of wine, we found ourselves walking into the new bar (to me at least), Park Street Cantina. You most certainly do not feel like you’re in Columbus, OH when you are inside that bar.
If those Cantina walls could talk, they would tell you that this little blogger of yours turned into a little (old?) cougar- right in the middle of the crowded bar. How it happened is all a blur, but it most certainly happened. Before I say more, I have to once again come clean with my addiction: I love Ohio boys. I really do. And, for some reason, they love me. I promise you, I will end up with a Ohio boy and/or Buckeyes fan.
With a third glass of wine in me, the details of the evening all blend together in my mind today- three days later- but I will admit that there were definitely boys that crossed my path. Now perhaps using the term “boys”, instead of “guys” or “men”, is appropriate. Yes, they were “boys”. I did not come across a boy- other than the ones I was with- that was over the age of 25-years old. Oops! In my defense, I am commonly mistaken for an early-twentysomething (if not a teenager). But still, it’s not like my 3 glasses of Merlot were the Fountain of Youth. I’m telling you, something happens to me when I cross the border into Ohio. I’m like a movie star or something. Or maybe, it’s because I’m exuding happiness and confidence in my Happy Place. Seriously, I’m not sure if I get it either, but I love it!
So yeah, “boys”. A few of them. There was one from Turkey….as in Istanbul, Turkey….who I believe was 24-years old. We had an interesting conversation on the dance floor, but after having a flash (literally) that he resembled a certain guy (ck), I decided that I had to say my goodbyes. (I think I gave him my phone number thought. Idk.) Before I knew it I was engaged in a conversation with a 21-year old, but dismissed myself quite quickly to rejoin my girls. After they abandoned me- Jen & Kelly for guys and Kristin for the bathroom- I found myself in the presence of Austin, someone who definitely showed that he can shoot-the-shit with me and put me in my place with equivalent sarcasm and humor. I have to say that I enjoyed talking to him, and of course, Kristin thought that he could be the love of my life that leads me to moving back to Columbus.
Did I tell you about that? I probably should as this knowledge will come in handy for Part Two of this weekend’s story.
Because I love her dearly, I granted Kristin the chance of a lifetime: To play wingwoman for me over the weekend. The hope was that I’d meet the love of my life (this weekend) and move back to Columbus to live happily ever after- with her (Kristin) at least. So, that being said, Friday began the hunt as we scouted out boys- beginning at O’Shaughnessey’s and continuing at Cantina. I’m not sure if the love of my life was found in the Arena District that night, but Kristin did keep Austin at the top of her list…at least until Saturday night. (More later.)
That’s really the most of Saturday night. It was a late night. A long day. But it was wonderful! The perfect beginning to an A.MAY.ZING. weekend back in Columbus, and you know what, it only got better from here-on-out.
Another night, another adventure on Megabus. By now I’m sure we’re all shocked to hear that Megabus was somewhat on time last night- if you count ten minutes late ‘on time’. Then again, I guess we didn’t depart then, so scratch that. Megabus was not two hours late which unfortunately did happen to my poor friend, Adriana. (Still sorry about that hun.) At that time I was just happy to unload my bags and have a seat to myself, and even happier that I remembered to bring a pillow and blanket this time. But looking back I should have seen the signs that we were in for an adventure. First, the bus driver mistakenly either 1) didn’t realize that Cincinnati was in Ohio; or 2) had no freakin’ idea where she was driving too. And I can say this because I’m kinda-sorta a blonde…she wasn’t even blonde. I know, the stereotype gets old, but it was a long night and my creativity isn’t quite there yet.
Anyways, we boarded the bus and YES!!! the wi-fi was working. And then it stopped. While I was trying to log back on, the driver slammed on the brakes and started yelling, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You cannot get on the bus here.” Apparently some crazy women thought our bus was her bus and tried crossing in front of it in the middle of downtown Chicago to get us to stop. Yeah, instead of going on about her stupidity, I’ll just say people are crazy…including our bus driver. OMG. She was a horrible driver. It was impossible to sleep on that bus because she was continuously slamming on the breaks. Do you really need to break that much when you’re driving on the Interstate? Who am I to judge?
So yeah, let’s just say that I was happy to finally wake up and see the beautiful sunrise over OSU’s Horseshoe football stadium this morning. Columbus, I’m home!! As soon as I got off the bus at 7 am this morning (Eastern Time! Love it.), I bee-lined over to my home for the day, Starbucks at Nationwide Arena, for a day of working remotely AND I have a lovely lunch date with the wonderful, Jen Morel. She informs me that we will be having sweet potato fries (Love Love Love) as she needs to gear up on carbs for her half-marathon with Matt tomorrow. I also feel the need to give a shout-out to the baristas here. These three girls are so bubbly and their happiness is a bit contagious. I LOVE OHIO! Seriously, Chicago, what is wrong with you?
Okay, that’s a perfect segue into what I was going to blog about last night- if I had wi-fi on the bus. So I dropped into Akira last night on my way back to panic-mode packing at my apartment, and I’m so glad I did. I have a new (gay) boyfriend! I honestly have no idea what my secret is. They love me and I love them! So Bradley hit on me, okay he flirted with my A.MAY.ZING. turquoise Hunter rainboots, which I felt ridiculous wearing since it was no longer rainy by the end of the day. But hey, if the ‘boys’ love them then it’s all worth it.
So Bradley (new beau) and I chatted awhile, and since he was fairly new to Chi-town I gave him my contact information. Why not? I mean if I cannot get a straight guy to ask me for my digits, then why not throw it around to the gays in town? Before leaving, we talked a bit about where he lived before. To simplify it, he’s lived a bunch of places (including LA and Miami), but most recently lived in Boston (which he characterized as being ‘stuffy’ and not really his crowd). I don’t know exactly why, having just met him, but I found it very coincidental saying that Boston isn’t the scene for me. Call it intuition. Anyways, Bradley said that so far he loved Chicago because the people are ‘so friendly and always smiling’.
Me: Really? In Chicago? I don’t recall many people smiling at me? (Other than the gays that crush one me, oh and the homeless.) Seriously though, to me, and this is generally speaking, I don’t get the whole “people in Chicago are so friendly and nice”. Yes and HELL NO. I have never been surrounded by, and unfortunately influenced by, such negativity. I tell people that since moving to Chicago I have felt like I have to be bitchier.
In thinking about that now and realizing that I don’t have to be anything but ‘me’ here in Columbus, I have to ask is that right? Why should I have to change anything about me in order to fit in and/or survive somewhere? How can I obtain the happiness I desire if I feel like I cannot simply be me…non-bitchy me?
I just sent an email to Darlene mentioning that even in my headcold, groggy state, I just feel so relaxed sitting here at Starbucks in downtown Columbus. Sure it’s familiar to me. I mean I used to bar-hop in this area and my old apartment is 5 minutes down the street. I’m sitting here with three bags and no means of transportation (for the time being) and I really don’t feel one ounce of stress right now. Gosh, I’m so bi-polar about this whole moving back to Columbus thing, but honestly right now I cannot help but wonder why I’m not staying here after the weekend is over. And I haven’t even seen any of my friends yet and I feel this way. Oh boy, my head is going to be messy this weekend…and add all of this wedding stuff into the mix. Bring it on! Afterall, I have cold medicine and wonderful friends to help me through all these thoughts and daydreams of mine.
While packing last night, my Sex and the City ringtone went off- indicating that one of my girl friends was calling. I assumed that it was either Julie calling me back or one of the girls that will be in C0lumbus this weekend for Kristin’s wedding. Wrong and wrong. It was LIBBY!!
Now I’ve mentioned by dear friend before, but here’s the background on us. Lib and I met during my sophomore year at OU (her freshman year, and also my first year at OU) and after a few months of being acquaintance/friends, we realized that our friendship was going to stand the test of time. Along with Brandon, I think it’s safe to say the Lib was one of my best friends in college. We were one another’s rocks and really still are. No matter how ridiculous things sounded in our heads, we always need that the other was there to listen to us. It’s the kind of friendship that you cannot force, but rather it just works out naturally.
With Lib now living in Atlanta and me in Chicago, we haven’t gotten to see one another in about 2 years. Additionally with our schedules we also play a lot of phone tag and FB wall postings and “I miss you” texts are our most common forms of communication. It’s tough, but as we discovered last night, we’ll always be there for one another no matter how much time passes nor distance is between us. Still it sucks that we cannot physically be there for one another…and I was reminded of that last night.
Now I’m not going to indulge you in the details of our conversation because some things really are best to be kept between my lovely Libby and me. But in essence, Lib is going through the same things that I’m going through: Questioning anything and everything. This is really why Libby and I are such good friends and always will be. We not only think way too much about things, but we doubt ourselves and our capabilities. To others we have it altogether all the time, but things are not always how they appear on the outside. Like other twentysomethings, we are trying to figure out who we are and where we want to be/go. The world is just so big and it’s easy to get lost.
Lib and I have worried ourselves sick over every topic imaginable, and you know that we’ve gotten through each stressor. And we’ll get through this too. In talking to her last night I really just wished that I could bring over a bottle of wine (or two) and hash through all of our doubts and insecurities in person. Hopefully soon. But at the end of our call I thought that these issues will most likely have dissolved by the next time we talk. That’s just how it is with us. We are both stronger than we realize, but sometimes you just need a friend to remind you of that. Lucky for me, I have many friends who remind me of this every day. Thank you.
And thank you all for bearing with me through this post. I don’t think I got as much sleep last night on the bus as I had hoped. I’m trying to bypass the second cup of coffee until after my sweet potato fries and good friend time. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and I’ll check in again when I can. I’m sure I’ll have such life-changing things to say after Kristin and Jim’s wedding and my weekend back ‘home’ in Columbus. If I can leave you wish just one last thought, it’s this:
Take a moment out of your busy, stressful day and just smile. Smile at someone- maybe a child, an elder, a mother, a father, a cute guy/girl passing by. Smile at something that makes you happy. Smile when you think of a past memory, or perhaps a past love- someone that even hurt you but you can smile now just knowing that they helped you become the person that you are today.
Or you know what, smile just to smile. No one has to be around. And in fact smiling just for the sake is probably the best thing you can do…for yourself. We’ve done this to finish up yoga classes before and of course you feel foolish, but you also feel so much better. Trust me.