September 12, 2014

Feelings Are a Good Thing... and I Have Way Too Much of a Good Thing

Welcome to the Bourgeois Pig Cafe.

I got so distracted this week being all opinionated that I forgot to mention that I'm back in Chicago.

I wish I could say I came to check up on all my favorite Marys (the Bloody ones, that is), but unfortunately I am here for work. However, even though patents aren't nearly as fun or fattening as biscuits and Bloodies, they are the reason I ever lived here to begin with so I can't give them too hard of a time.

Anyway, to say I was excited this week would be like saying, well, that people were talking about Ray Rice this week. (A bit of an understatement.) I love some cities for the people who live there, or the things to do there, or for the food you can eat there but with Chicago... I am just in love with the city. I mean, the people, activities, and food are all wonderful too but there's just something about Chicago itself. Come here, and you'll understand.

I got here Wednesday night, checked into my hotel, and immediately got on the L to go to my favorite cafe in my old neighborhood.

The Pig is really nothing special. I found the little pseudo-European Lincoln Park cafe a few weeks after I moved here last year, completely alone, not knowing a single person in the city. After a couple of weeks, I knew a few people (for example, "that girl with brown hair down the hall" and my boss), but no one well enough that I had anyone to go to dinner with.

So I went to the Pig with my book or my laptop, sat by the window, and pretended to be occupied so no one would look at me and think, "Wow, that looks like a girl who feels completely alone and confused and doubtful but still simultaneously excited and a touch badass." Instead, I just looked like a girl eating a sandwich and reading a book.

A few months later, Derrick moved here and I wasn't alone anymore. But he got a job with long hours so I still came back to the Pig a lot by myself for weeknight dinners. I still brought my laptop, but this time it was to update my blog with all of my pictures of the city and the fun things we were doing and the good food we were eating. Through summer and fall, the Pig became Humble Brag Central.

And then winter came. And then winter kept coming. And then it wouldn't stop. Derrick was still working the long hours and I kept coming to the Pig, but my walks there became a lot more Armageddon-esque. My posts became stories about record breaking snowfall and temperatures that belonged on the moon and the troubles with our new apartment (specifically, the rat in our new apartment). But they were still was light-hearted and funny because in the end, all of these troubles were just funny stories Derrick and I would one day tell at dinner parties.

("Remember that day they told us our eyeballs would freeze if we went outside for too long? What good times we had.")

The snow eventually stopped though and we could see the light at the end of the Polar Vortex. But like lights at the end of tunnels sometimes are, this one was a train.

I got an amazing job offer in DC and my blog content changed. It was sulky and unnecessarily vague. I actually had no business being on the internet at all but I was a blogger, and what else does a blogger do when she's breaking up with the guy she's been dating and living with for more than four years? The guy she had planned a life with who would soon be moving hundreds of miles away? Because Derrick wasn't coming to DC; he was going to Florida.

The three weeks before we left, I still came to the Pig. But I cried on the walks there. I still ate the same sandwiches, but I couldn't remember what was so good about them. I couldn't remember what was so good about anything, actually. Your first heartbreak is annoying like that.

The last memory I have from Chicago before this trip is actually from the Pig. My one-way flight to DC was at 3 PM, so we stopped by the Pig with my two giant suitcases for lunch before I left.

We didn't talk that much. I didn't stop crying the whole cab ride from the Pig to the airport. Actually, I didn't stop crying until my second week on the East Coast.

This city, and this restaurant in particular, was the backdrop to by far the most emotionally charged period of my life. And not just for the range of the emotions I felt here, but also for their depth.

I don't know how I didn't realize that coming back here would be a little bit like feeling them all, all over again.