Last Thursday, I landed in Chicago and hit the ground running. I had just a couple of hours to catch a glimpse of the city before my work there began in earnest. And although I knew I’d be exhausted by the end of the trip, I wanted more than just bland seminar rooms and conference center halls to make up my first impressions of the city. It was the first time in a long time that I’ve simply showed up someplace new and set out to wander. As I hopped out of the cab on Michigan Avenue, I felt myself slow from my usual hurried pace to a leisurely stroll. I had no particular destination in mind, and in fact, had little sense of where I was to begin with.
It felt strange at first, to plop down in the middle of a purposeful crowd without much direction of my own, and then, all of a sudden, it felt so good. I wandered in and out of shops, just to browse, in a way I wouldn’t in my own city. I ran my fingertips over silky dresses and sequined tops. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and snapped photos. I smiled at strangers and held the door behind me.
Over the course of the next five days, I worked long hours and ate enough deep dish pizza to last me a decade. I took in all the twinkling lights and laughed at how Christmas seems to have blossomed rather early in Chicago. It’s funny how some places seem imbued with such magic when you meet them for the first time.
It felt just as delightful to go as it did to come back home to Atlanta, just as luxurious to sleep in a new bed as it did to return to my own. Our little place felt even more cozy than when I’d left, and I couldn’t help wondering at how sometimes slipping away and returning again is the perfect reminder of delight in newness and comfort in familiar.