February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is a chilly evening. The unusual rain outside lightly falls, it’s presence making Chicago feel more like spring, and nothing like February. A small cat residing on an old chair keeps me company. I huddle into a ball atop the vintage sofa as I try to recover from my short walk in the rain. I sit in a quiet, rehabbed apartment; when my music stops I can faintly hear the neighbors below me. Many of the decorations scattered around the room are familiar, and I feel lonely in the home that normally holds an old friend. The cat’s eyes look lonely too, and we both seem to be using the quiet space to reflect and process.
I spent the afternoon downtown – the part of the city that holds the high rises and tourists, the wealthy and the ambitious, and everyone in between. I followed my companion closely as she weaved through the streets – mostly the ones named after The Great Lakes. I felt both overwhelmed and at home. We made our way to a new restaurant with a silly name but serious noodles. The interior resembled something between a hip movie set and an Ikea display. After dinner, after parting ways with my companion, I and my white, paper bag of leftover noodles took a couple of trains to the hipster neighborhood. I walked a few blocks to a dimly lit, yet seductively modern bar. It was there that a white envelope holding two silver keys awaited me.
Another train, a couple of blocks in the rain, and I was to my old friend’s apartment. I cautiously walked in – her absence making me hesitant, but a lovely note on the door beckoning me in. So here I sit wondering what this city has for me. No longer struggling to keep my head above water, this city is now just a vast ocean for me to swim around in. But this freedom is stretching, and instead of just going with the flow I feel I am swimming upstream most of the time.
I can talk all I want about freedom and romance and chasing dreams, yet when it comes down to any of it am I really willing to embrace it? Can I let go of past hurts and regrets and rejections and muster up enough courage to face the mental and emotional anxiety that inevitably comes with doing anything worth doing? “Don’t settle, don’t settle, don’t settle!” I tell myself, but then feel too weak when it comes time to take the more interesting path.
The rain is falling a bit harder now, and my mind is drained from both excitement and anxiety. I have come a long way in the past few years – facing fears, making mistakes, letting go. By stepping back into this city again I am making a statement. I did not whimper out of here and I will not whimper my way back in. There is restoration here, and I will not settle for anything less. And on that note, I am feeling a little bit warmer.