The whole "It's not you, it's me" cliche.
So, I decided to go back and visit.
As I drove the boring six hours down 57, I was excited, but also really scared. I may have been listening to a mix of musical soundtracks and an audio book of The Giver, I still wasn't distracted enough to not think about what would happen over the weekend. Something I've learned since moving back to Chicago is that while you were gone and moved on with your life, so has everyone else. Their lives don't become paused as they wait for you to return.
Intellectually, I already knew this. It makes sense. My life happens, and so does theirs. But when faced with the reality of being gone for five years and catching up with old friends, it's been interesting to see how fitting each other into our lives again works now. It's not the same as it was when we were in college and high school.
For Missouri, I haven't been gone for five years, only six months. Yet, I couldn't help but wonder how things had changed. Did anyone actually miss me the way I missed them? Was there any bitterness to my leaving? Would it be awkward to walk through those halls of the church again?
But I had nothing to fear.
As I visited with old friends we fell back into step as though I had never been gone. Sitting down to have lunch and talk about the last six months over microwaved hot pockets. Running errands around town with their kids in the back seat singing to Frozen. Catching people at Starbucks and sitting down at a table together to catch up. Late night talks after dinner with glasses of amazing raspberry wine. Visiting the farmers market early in the morning. Laughing and getting sunburned while at rehearsal with my former theatre company. Avenue Q sing a longs at lunch. Catching a late show of The Fault in Our Stars after an outdoor dinner.
It's amazing how easily you can fall right back in step with some people.
It was Sunday I was really worried about. Returning to church. What would it be like?
Yet, I had nothing to fear. I was greeted with warm hugs and smiles and questions about life. Questions I wish I had some better answers to. They didn't mind that though. As long as I was happy, this was all that mattered to them. It wasn't quite the same with some people and a few of the youth. And that's okay. Their lives have moved on and so has mine. The pastor who over a year ago listened and encouraged me when I told him I was resigning was happy I was there and gave me a hug as he gave me communion one last time. A friend and I laughed to ourselves as we became the snark squad at church. I was able to share life and thoughts with my former co-workers. People grasping my arm to check out my new ink. It was nice.
It's funny how sometimes we build things up in our heads to be something awkward and terrible. When in fact, there is nothing to be afraid of at all.
It was sad going back up to Chicago again. The drive back was long and boring. I wondered about the choices I've made over the past year and if they were the right ones.
Which, they were, and still are. I know I'm in the right place. I remember how my BFF is returning from her trip to Italy tonight and we can chat over cosmos about how summer has been so far. I think about how this weekend I'll go downtown with some friends to see Motown the musical. I think about some potential opportunities coming up which are exciting. I think about how I have more theatre friends to hang out with and throw Tony Awards Parties with. I think about how I'm here with my family and I can help my sister with her upcoming wedding plans. I think about the church where i worship now and the wonderful friends I have there. It's a good life up in Chicago. Even if I don't have everything together.
But I sometimes do wish I could transport all of my Missouri friends up here to Chicago.
That's life though, right? Things grow and change and adjust as we make our choices. It's never easy, but it's what happens. And that's okay.