To Boston and Ohio: From Chicago, with Love

All of the bands for Meryl

All of the bands for Meryl

Months ago, I bought expensive tickets I had no business buying, for the Boston Calling music festival. My friend Margaret lives in Boston, and I’ve never been there, and the line-up consisted of every band I’ve ever wanted to see, ever: Death Cab, Modest Mouse, Tegan and Sara, JENNY LEWIS. It was insane. It was a fate.

It was a terrible idea.

I bought weekend passes for me and Margaret in February for the Memorial Day weekend event, back when it was possible, but not certain, I’d have a new job soon. Things were in flux, as they would be for weeks, but I took a chance regardless.

It felt good to make a choice, reckless or no. I was deciding my own future, in one of few ways that I could.

Fast-forward to early April. I’d just started my new job and been told I wouldn’t have vacation time until July. Airfare to Boston and back was at a minimum cost of $400 for Memorial Day weekend, and it would mean flying in LATE on Friday and leaving early Monday, missing Margaret’s friends’ cookout and having little-to-no post-festival recovery time.

I didn’t have $400+ for airfare, and I didn’t have a way to take additional time off. I told Margaret I’d have to pass on the weekend getaway. She understood, and found me someone to buy my ticket, which was super nice of her.

By late-April, I’d accepted my fate, and decided to surprise my friends in Ohio instead.

At some point this winter, my best friend Brittany had called me and told me she’d be throwing her husband Adam a 30th birthday party Memorial Day weekend. I’d been sad to tell her that, despite that weekend being literally months away, I already had plans. She was disappointed, and I felt terrible.

So I decided I’d surprise her and her husband.

I got her mom and her friend Stacey on board, and they filled me in on the party details. My family was excited I was coming home for the first time since Christmas. Boston wasn’t looking so lost to me after all.

On Wednesday morning this week, I woke up with a sore throat and a nasty cough.

I stifled it. I denied its existence. I went to work.

On Thursday morning I woke up coughing, a deep rattle in my throat. I swallowed and took some ibuprofen and drove to the ‘burbs.

By Thursday night I thought I might die. I crawled up the stairs to my apartment after being stuck in traffic for over an hour. I emailed my brother and my dad and said I couldn’t come. I sat on my bed and cried for 15 minutes and ignored my brother’s phone call.

Then I called him back and cried some more on the phone, and fell asleep in a pathetic heap.

Now it’s Saturday night, and I’m dog-sitting for my neighbor because I don’t have out-of-town plans like everyone else. I still have a deep, disgusting cough, but I can walk around the neighborhood without feeling exhausted.

All I wanted to do was get out of this city and out of the muck I’ve dragged into my life all winter, but I can’t even make that happen. And I won’t have another opportunity until July, when my 90 days at work is up and I can finally take a day or two off to go home. I’m glad I was able to see Eileen and Tim in February, because I’m sure stuck here for now.

Maybe I didn’t need to see Jenny Lewis – maybe – but I did need to see some friendly faces. I miss my family, and I miss Brittany and Adam and everyone in my hometown. I guess I should be glad I’m not out $400 in airfare and however much in a weekend concert pass, and that I didn’t need to find some way to rush Margaret’s ticket to her in my sickly absence.

But man. I really could have used a break.

Today was a low-key, wallowing Saturday, but by God, tomorrow I will be sitting in the sun and relaxing, and Monday THERE WILL BE BRATS. Because this is AMERICA and it’s MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and no one but horrible germs can get in my way and I’ve had enough of those.

There will be no plans, only beer and sunshine. Assuming I’m well enough to drink beer by then.

Happy Memorial Day, you guys. Enjoy this time with people you love, or at least people you like a whole bunch.

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