As I write this, I'm sitting at a crappy wooden desk in a room overlooking the covered pool at the Days Inn Omaha. Nate's on the bed masochistically watching videos about Trump, and Lily's beside him almost audibly wondering what's happening and if we live here now. I've owned this dog for 9 years, and so far she's lived in 8 different houses/apartments, so the running joke is that every new place she's introduced to she assumes she lives in.
In almost every way except Lily's presence, this feels like the trip. We're in a town we never expected to visit with no plans other than heading out tonight to find something to eat that won't make us feel fatter than we already are. (We'll still probably settle on pizza).
Today was the first of our two-day drive to Denver.
Two weeks ago we returned to the U.S. and spent a week with my parents trying to adjust to the jet lag and understanding English again. I wrote about that experience here.
From Atlanta we set off to Chicago, home to Nate's parents, most of our friends and the best brunch in the world. We spent one weekend catching up with friends at a small business owners' retreat just outside of the city.
We stayed with Nate's mom for the rest of the time and spent most of the week seeing our people, snuggling dogs (ours and hers), and doing the million little things that it seems are required for every move- calling on apartment listings to inquire about weight limits for dogs (Lily's a big girl, so that one's tough so far), notifying banks that we're back in the U.S. and would love to be able to access our money, please, etc., etc.
We did get to see Hamilton, which was AMAZING.
We also did a couple of media interviews both in Atlanta and Chicago, which are always fun.
We also got to cook with Nate's mom, which was great and always makes us feel normal.
I thought I might feel sad visiting Chicago again, but the city in January doesn't really look appealing. We drove by our old apartment, and mostly I felt nothing except: "Good for the people that live here now. It's not ours anymore." I didn't feel any of the dread or anxiety about moving away, probably because I made peace with that decision over a year ago when we left. Returning to the city felt like visiting an old friend that's really fucking cold and windy.
Seeing our friends again was wonderful and strange. Everyone's lives have progressed over the past year, and it's amazing to see how things change. One friend got engaged, another had a baby. People started businesses and changed jobs and moved apartments.
At times it felt hard to reconnect to people. After a year away, I feel like I'm getting pretty good at being alone (or being alone with Nate). When I was feeling isolated on the trip, I often wrote here or in my personal journal. I feel like I found other ways of self soothing besides drawing on my people back home and strangely that meant reconnecting felt disjointed at times.
I continue to feel overwhelmed by my phone and how accessible I am. I was on my way to meet a friend at a restaurant and 15 minutes before I arrived, I got a text from her just asking where I was. I felt irrationally intruded upon. Are you changing the plans? Are we changing the time? No, she just wanted an update. I know this kind of constant contact is normal and it was definitely a part of my everyday life before I left, but now it makes me feel crazy. I turned the sound off of my cell phone, and that's helped, although I feel bad for missing/ignoring texts and calls.
Things with Nate continue to be good. Both of us have felt crazy at times over the past two weeks between re-entry stuff and the political climate and lots of time spent with family. But we continue to feel really connected to each other. I feel like we're still in a little bubble, somewhat separated and protected from the world outside. Maybe this is just marriage and every couple feels this way.
Nate's never moved away from Chicago- not permanently anyway. He went away to college and returned, went to Kenya for the peace corps and returned again. This is the first time he'll be settling down permanently in a new place. I'm interested to see how he feels.
So far the drive out to CO has been exciting and not too demanding. Nate's calling it "Fievel and Wifel Go West." When we arrive, we're planning to crash with some good friends in their guest basement room while we apartment search. We feel really grateful to have a little breathing time to see places and get a feel for neighborhoods before signing on for a full yearlong lease.
We'll keep you updated as we get settled in our new home!