Thursday, February 25, 2016

Back Home in Indiana

I have written many times about the process of changing your life. Sometimes change comes in huge waves with sweeping implications. And other times change can move at a slower pace, so that only upon reflection after months or even years, do you realize how far you've come.

Last weekend, I re-visited a place in my life from five years ago. Mark Johnson and I went on our first road trip together. We decided to see a concert in Indianapolis, Indiana. Back in my consulting days, I worked on a start-up contract in Indianapolis. You might remember me writing about driving down there every week and working 15 hour days. It was exhausting and one of the more challenging times in my career, and my life.

Even as I toiled away in the hotel room, I always thought there was something special about that city. I may not have liked my situation, but I really liked it there. For a while, I was convinced that I might find my husband there. Although I'm not sure how I was going to do that, unless he happened to work at the Noodles and Company where I got dinner on my way back to the hotel every night.

Last year, a very single Mark Johnson also visited Indianapolis to see a concert on his own. He found a great bed and breakfast just a few blocks from the Murat Theater, where the Wilco show was going on. As he wandered among the shops and restaurants on Massachusetts Avenue, he thought how nice it would be to someday return there with someone special.

We woke up on Thursday morning and got in the car. The drive went smoothly as we listened to his road trip playlist and I read him articles from Real Simple magazine. As soon as we arrived at the Nestle Inn, we checked into our cozy room and went out for dinner.  The concert wasn't until Friday night so we had plenty of time to explore the town. We even found a grocery store so we could get supplies to make tea in our hotel room.

The next day, we went for a walk to experience the city in earnest. As we headed out from the hotel, I saw the Chase Tower off in the distance. When I was working in Indy, we leased some office space in the Chase Tower. A few of the original team members still worked up there, including my friend Zac, a younger guy who I hired despite the fact that he had no health care background. I just had a feeling that he would be good, and he turned out to be an amazing data analyst.

Part of me wanted to go up there and say hello, but I wasn't sure how I would handle it. We decided to go into the building since we were walking by anyway. I found the office on the 44th floor and rang the bell. Zac was there, along with another woman I had hired. They were so surprised and happy to see me. Another one of their staff came up to us while we were talking, and Zac introduced me to him and said "This is Rebecca. She is the one who single handedly started this contract!"

Then we all reminisced about the craziness of the implementation and marveled at how quickly five years can pass. In fact, their contract is up for re-bid this year, so they have to write another proposal and try to win the whole thing all over again.

After we left the Chase Tower, we walked past the State Office building where my client was located and then past the hotel where I stayed each week. Across the street from the hotel was a park that had a beautiful walking path along the canal. I remember when spring came, I started going there after work each day to help relieve my stress.

Mark Johnson and I started walking along that same path. As we held hands and strolled among the hand painted murals under the overpasses and watched the ducks swimming in the canal, I felt so happy to be there with him. The more we walked, the more I felt all of the history start to fade behind me and a new Indianapolis started to emerge. It was no longer the town I used to work in, it was becoming the town where Mark Johnson and I had our first weekend getaway.

We went back to the hotel to relax for awhile and change our clothes before the show. We saw the most amazing concert at the Murat Theater - an alternative/country singer named Jason Isbell. And it was a special night, because his wife was out on tour with him. She played the fiddle and he played the guitar. They had a few duets together and it was one of the most romantic shows I have been to. As I held Mark Johnson's hand, I could feel the energy of our love and the energy of their love filling the theater.

The next morning, we drove back to Michigan along the same route I used to take to drive down there every week. I had so many flashbacks from those drives. Sometimes crying in the car on the way down there. And anxiously speeding up that same road to get home to my life in Michigan. Back then, I was still dating the Boy and struggling with so many aspects of that relationship. I never received the support I needed from him.

Now here I was, happily chatting away with Mark Johnson. We were talking about how beautiful the canals were and it reminded me of a blog I wrote back in 2011 called Running Away. It was about the day I discovered the canals and my first effort at taking time for myself instead of working all those extra hours. Here is just a part of what I wrote:
In the midst of all the chaos, I carved out a little time for myself today. I should be happy that I was able to take a break. And now I need to accept that the break is over and it is time to get back to work. But somehow, it just makes me want more time. And it makes me resentful of this job and all of the burdens that come along with it. I don't want to "steal" time away just to live my life. I should be able to go for a run or go to the grocery store any night of the week. So I have started to contemplate my options. And one of the things I am considering is just running away from it all. I am not sure I can wait until I find another job. In fact, I am not sure I can wait another day.
I knew back then what I needed to do, but like so many other times, I talked myself out of it. Or let others talk me out of it. That blog was written in March 2011. After another few months of working in Indiana, I finally left that company in August 2011. Unfortunately, I landed in another stressful job that took an even greater toll on my health and well-being.

Now here I am five years later, and I no longer work in the hectic corporate health care world. I have the most amazing boyfriend who loves and supports me every day. And we have a new favorite city where we can road trip every year to stay the night at the Nestle Inn and see another concert at the Murat Theater.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the girl I was five years ago and tell her what I know now. I would tell her to trust her instincts. And to carve out more time for herself. I would tell her not to try so hard to please everyone. And that it's ok not to have all of the answers. And I would tell her to break up with the Boy once and for all, because he is definitely not the one for her.

Most importantly, I would tell her that some day, in the not too distant future, she is going to find everything that she is seeking in her life. And so much more joy than she could ever have imagined.

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