As seen in this post from last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to escape Chicago for just a weekend and to visit this fascinating little place called Madison, Wisconsin. It was a much welcomed escape with some friends and it afforded us a bit of time to unplug and just to chat face to face. Many of us work for non-profits and find ourselves working at odd hours from both our offices and our homes. For just a weekend, we left our work behind and enjoyed the excitement of exploring a new city without any obligations.
One of my friends loves to ask the deeper questions. In times past, she used to carry a book of questions to every gathering, progressing from easy-to-answer questions into deeper, more thought-provoking ones. Now she has them all tucked away in that brain of hers. And she plucks from them when appropriate.
She asked us:
What gives you hope?
What are you proud of?
And, do you believe that love is a choice?
And we talked about each question, slowly. Thinking. Sharing. Building off one another’s ideas. I reveled in the back and forth, the give and take of a good conversation. Without the distraction of an e-mail. Or a text message. Or a work phone call.
Can you see just how much I enjoyed this? And perhaps, just how much I needed this?
Sometimes I think I become more and more introverted by the day. My mom is worried. She says she already has one daughter just like her husband and she doesn’t need another. Not that my dad is bad. He’s actually quite good. And my sister’s not too bad either. But I think my mom enjoys the pieces of her in me. And really, I do, too.
Sometimes I think I’m losing those pieces. When Adrian and I married, I spent a lot of time alone. Before then, I had never even watched a movie alone. Ever. I think I was afraid to. So when we got married and he had to work different hours than me, I faced my greatest fear: my own company.
And I found, I’m actually not all that bad.
As that first year of marriage went on, I began to enjoy my time alone. Funny that I discovered solitude in my first year of marriage, no? But I did. And I liked it. So much so that I began to let go of some of my friendships and my social interactions, preferring the ease and comfort of my own company.
But in this, my second year of marriage, I’m settling into more of a balance. Time for myself and time for others. Not selfishly hoarding my time, but not freely giving it away either. I realize that teaching and being in front of people all day is exhausting for me and that I relish those twenty minutes when I first get home. When I’m quiet and when I can refocus. But I also love to catch up with good friends. I look forward to those good conversations when I leave and feel a little more understanding and a little more understood.
I don’t want to lose the pieces of me that I’ve found this past year. The more introverted parts. The I just want a few moments to relax quietly parts. But I also want to hang on to the pieces that came before. The extroverted parts. The I love to tell a good story and I’d love to hear your good story, too, parts. I’d like to be a bit of both my mother and my father. I’d like people who know them to meet me and think about how they cannot decide who I resemble more.
So, in short, thank you, Madison. For all your little restaurants and bars and museums and bars on top of museums. And for the escape. From work. From the bigger city. And from my increasingly introverted self.
I needed that reminder of who I used to be and who I am now. And who I still have time to be.