Note: After this post, I will be disconnecting the automated updates to my Facebook and Twitter. Normally, WordPress posts to my profiles when I have a new blog entry, but I am toying around with some new ideas for the blog and my social media profiles and have decided to disconnect that feature. If you want to continue to follow this blog, and I really encourage you to do so, you can sign up to follow through WordPress or add my blog to your RSS feeder or aggregator, such as Feedly. This may change as I find more direction for the blog and I will still post regularly (or somewhat), but you just won’t find links to new posts on my Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading.
It wasn’t quite 8 a.m. and I was on the hunt for an egg sandwich in the Atlanta airport. I had been in transit since 4:30 a.m., with one flight left till Minneapolis and a weekend with family, and the hunger pains were starting to grow. Since Niger, I only ever want egg sandwiches for breakfast, more than any other food you can put in front of me. It’s different, but just the combination of eggs and bread makes me think of hunting for something to eat on the dusty main street in Hamdi or the sweet man with a shop outside the Zinder hostel whose egg sandwiches will always be my favorite. Yet, in the airport, lines were long and my lack of sleep did not provide patience for that. As I wandered to find a quick fix, I noticed the habits of others at this early hour, all of us moving from one place to the next, never resting here. There was a sizeable line at Five Guys and a few sat with amber-colored drinks at an Irish pub. The time was far too inappropriate for greasy fries and beers, however, if it was 10 a.m. I would likely have had a different attitude.
I love airports. I love the feeling of having a specific place to go and being beyond where I am from. I once read something about the transitional feeling of airports and how we are often inclined to act outside of our normal behavior because the rules are different when you are making your way from point A to point B. They allow for hamburgers and beers for breakfast, the flipping through a magazine you would never subscribe to, and the splurge at the bath and beauty store you usually walk past on the street because it’s likely too expensive. In transition, we can step outside of ourselves and live slightly different.
Transition is an euphoric feeling. It means I am headed somewhere and that seems to justify a lot for me. I don’t like to be still. In fact, I often drink and eat too much out of anxiety when I am called to sit and be present. I am so terrified that I’ll miss something somewhere else, so when I can move again I sigh with relief about the soon-to-be discovered.
During transition, I convince myself that I really don’t have to be what I was at the last point and that the new location can be the solution to whatever I think needs fixing. I will eat better. I will read more news. I will do more yoga. I will be a better person.
I know this because in transition it all feels possible.
This week I will finish my job in DC and the following I will move to Chicago, so I am in transition from one life to the next. The in between is much more emotionally complicated than flying from one city to the next.
DC has been good to me. Despite the constant fear of running out of money and the nausea that comes with writing my rent check each month, I’ve been able to set up a life and have eased right into city living. I came here knowing a handful of people, mostly RPCVs from Niger and Lesotho, and found friends through my roommates and co-workers. I’ve led a pretty active social life and have been able to explore a decent chunk of the Capital City.
But I wouldn’t be leaving if it was magical. Something was always off, which I’ve chosen not to explore because I don’t want to think ill of this place or my friends who live here.
When the job was first presented to me, Chicago seemingly popped up everywhere. An ad for a band that I like was playing in Chicago. A TV show about a character moving to Chicago. Meeting someone who was from Chicago. Chicago. Chicago. Chicago. If the universe could have presented a red arrow pointing to a bright billboard with large white lights spelling out Chicago, it probably would have. It was clear that I needed to go, so I made that decision.
Although I feel deep down that I made the right decision, doubt hangs around sometimes, like the jerk always does. DC is a good place to be professionally and I do like my current job. I know exactly two people in Chicago and it is intimidating how much larger it is. l
There is whole other set of worries – that I am running from a much deeper issue, that I jump too quickly at exit signs, that I am putting too much hope into this job helping me find some kind of purpose, that the loneliness and struggle will likely follow me to another time zone.
Yet, all of that is useless anxiety because the strongest feeling is that this is the right move for me. I should be going and coming. And I thrive off being the person who doesn’t know what she wants so she just tries a bunch of stuff. I love knowing that my point A will some day be my point B.
In airports, I read trashy magazines and think about the organic food that I am going to buy when I get to my location. I browse through stores and declare that I will start to shop for only things that make me feel beautiful when I return. I watch little kids play with their mothers and lovers fall asleep on each other’s shoulders and I make a pact to live with more authenticity and love.
As I walk home, past the Capitol and through the National Mall, I promise myself to create the life I dreamt about all those cold and lonely nights in my rondaval. I declare that I will step into Chicago with more courage and confidence than I did D.C. And I make the commitment to stop waiting for other people and circumstances to make me happy but to do it myself.
In transition, all of that seems possible.