“I’m dying to tell you this kills us forever. We were already dead. And I’m just fine. I haven’t called you but I haven’t had the time. These thoughts are stale. I’ve been revolving like turnstiles.” ~The Lawrence Arms, Turnstiles.
When you return to the place you called home for many years for the first time, it’s an odd mix of emotions. I took a trip last week to Chicago for several days. I can’t say I wasn’t anxious. I also can’t say I wasn’t excited. It was two extremes at once resulting in me having an anxiety attack before I went. Cool, right? I had just finished up taking a relaxing bath and reading when I started to think about leaving. All of a sudden I felt like I was going to have a heart attack while streams of tears started flooding down my face. I went through the emotional ringer the last two years there, so…you know. It happens.
I’ll start with the excitement part. I’ve been away from my friends, whom I consider the family I chose, for what feels more like 11 years than 11 weeks. I miss being in the company of people who know me – the good, the bad, the ugly and both sides of crazy. In that regard it’s been a long two and a half months. I needed their energy, conversation, laughs, tears and love. I am enjoying my time in my new environment, but only having conversations at surface level is becoming exhausting for me. I needed a break from feeling like a stranger. It was fantastic. I say this all the time, but the one thing I have kicked ass at in life is picking my friends. I didn’t feel like an outsider for a few days. I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform, my friends play music at the Double Door (quite possibly the last time I’ll ever be there since I think it’s closing), ate my face off at my favorite places, drank too much and got to walk as my main form of transportation. All good things. It was clear to me that deep down Chicago is still beautiful to me in many ways.
So, why the anxiety before leaving? I wasn’t sure if I was going to walk down those streets I called home and feel like I didn’t belong. I wasn’t sure if the memories that would flood my mind would be happy or a source of great pain. I’m happy to report it was not a source of pain. When visiting friends like mine, that’s sort of impossible. I should have known! However, it did confirm for me that moving was the right thing to do. I don’t think I could have truly reset and started over in Chicago. I’m not sure why I was mentally stuck there. Perhaps I was attached to what used to be and wanted to recreate it. All I know is sometimes you have to walk away and get some perspective. I’m woman enough to admit when something isn’t working, no matter how crushing it is to my pride.
Moving has allowed me to reflect and focus on the good, and that gives me peace. I’m not saying I reflect on my failed marriage and the emotional aftermath as a thing of beauty. Fuck that noise. It was the worst. I’m saying I now have physical distance and my own space to see that it doesn’t matter anymore. I have a clean slate, and I don’t think I could have generated that for myself in Chicago. I don’t know if I was capable.
I feel warm inside knowing that when I go back to see my friends, it will be concentrated on the people, places and spaces I love. I get to go where I have good memories, whether it’s in a dirty dive bar drinking terrible beer, seeing my friends who are oh so talented play music, walking in neighborhoods for no particular reason other than I love the buildings or stuffing my face at Sultan’s Market. (Seriously. Can Sultan’s move to Kansas City?) It’s refreshing to appreciate my old home again. I didn’t want that chip on my shoulder.
Ok, Kansas City. I’m refreshed and filled with love from my old friends. It’s just the boost of energy I needed so I can start putting myself out there to make some new ones! My new neighborhood may never be the same.