A Clean Getaway

I am so glad this is a short week because it’s exhausting already. If I’d thought about it enough in advance I might have gone to Ohio for Memorial Day weekend but I’m actually glad I stuck around. On that note, I’ll be home June 17-20 to visit my family and see my niece for her second birthday. I haven’t seen her since before I started work, along with most of the people I’m related to. So Caldwell people, clear your schedules Saturday night!

Meanwhile, this past Friday night I had kind of a breakthrough. I ended up going out with people after work again and we went to our usual haunt. It’s nice to think of us having a usual haunt, actually; it sounds so normal, and almost like I’m getting away with this — passing for having a normal life, with people and places in it. But Friday was the first time I felt like I had any business being there.

One of the best things about life and something I find myself constantly forgetting is that people can surprise you if you let them. We may think we have the people around us figured out but that’s an incredibly arrogant assumption, although one we’re all guilty of at some point.

I got into a conversation with one of the guys from work, and inexplicably, I walked away from it feeling a lot better about moving to Chicago. Not that I’ve ever felt bad about it or regretted it, I’ve just been plagued with a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt. I’ve struggled with this way more than it ever occurred to me I might; I think I was just too stupid and brazen to be scared.

He told me the only thing stopping me from feeling comfortable in my new group of friends, at work, and even in Chicago, is myself. The second he said it, I knew it was true and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. After all, I am the best person at making myself feel unwelcome or out of place, and the first to stop myself from feeling good about much of anything. I think he misunderstood the look on my face because he started to apologize.

“No, no,” I said. “You’re absolutely right. …You have no idea.”

I don’t know if I just needed to hear someone say it to me or if I really am that clueless, but I belong here now, for better or for worse. This is my life. I’m not just visiting on a long vacation and some morning I’ll wake up and say, this was fun guys, but I’m going back to Ohio to my old job and my old apartment and my old insecurities, thanks.

I know this is like the third time I’ve referenced this, but that line from “Infinite Jest” that served as my mantra after I broke up with Brandon is just as true today as it was then: “You’ll worry less about what people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” I’m in this for the long haul. Maybe now, after seven months of being here, I can actually start to be here. I keep saying that, but that’s just because I can see the pieces falling together, getting me closer to a point where I’m comfortable with the choices I’ve made. The sentiment behind my anthem in making this move is slightly closer to being true.

This is normal now.