I know what I wanted from this weekend. I thought I would feel like I was coming home. I hoped I would come back and remember that, yes, there is no question about where I want to be when I graduate in May.
Looking back on it on a Sunday night, here’s what I know: I had a lot of liquor and a lot of incredible food. I loved seeing my sister. I loved meeting new people and seeing some old faces too. Andersonville and Lincoln Square are still my favorite areas in the city. I will never feel beautiful in Andersonville unless I go gay, and that’s fine. Soundtracks to my life have an uncanny way of making themselves perfectly. And yes, autumn in Chicago is as wonderful as I remember it to be, in all its leaf-crunching glory.
But something was off. In spite of all its familiarity, in spite of its gastro goodness, in spite of clear nighttime drives on Lake Shore Drive and fading daylight walks on Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street, things were not the same. I didn’t expect them to be, really, but.
…So, OK. But maybe I did expect them to be the same. Maybe just a little.
What I wanted from this weekend and what I got were two very different things. I didn’t drive away with the skyline in my rearview mirror thinking to myself how wrong it was to be leaving the place that felt like home, because really? It didn’t feel like “home” the way it did this summer. I felt like a guest. I was a guest.
And nothing about the weekend clarified post-graduate desires. There is question about where I want to be in May. And the longer I live in Des Moines, the more I love that I can call so many places home. But it’s not what I want; it’s not what I wanted this weekend, anyway. Standing at Iowa and Damen or seeing a man with a Drake Relays T-shirt wasn’t supposed to evoke the fondness that it did. Seeing the gold dome of the capitol isn’t supposed to prompt excitement of any sort.
This summer I was ready to cast Des Moines aside, put on my big girl boots and hit some real city streets — and I did. I wanted to put those boots back on this weekend and not look back. I did don a nice pair, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some backward glances.
This quote I found keeps running through my head. I found it as soon as I left in August, planning to write a grand post fit for a great return; instead, I find it more appropriate today.
“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago — she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” — Mark Twain
No, she is not. But apparently neither is the visitor.
For a lot of reasons, in a lot of ways, I think they call this weekend homesickness.