Well, the Midwest has begun to feel sort of mystical to me. I spent 24 years of my life living between Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois and now I’m meeting, working, and becoming friends with people who have never been to those states before. I meet people who don’t know what Culvers custard is and have friends who catch me slipping into my “Wisconsin accent.” I constantly think in Central time because most of my family and friends are on that time. As I spend more time in Pennsylvania, I’m sure some of these experiences will dull as I settle in but right now, I needed the Midwest.
I was also feeling a little burned out. I’ve always proactively taken on projects, worked hard, and blurred boundaries between work and personal. In undergrad and grad school, it was nearly impossible for me to compartmentalize the different areas of my life. Instead, all these parts got thrown in together in a tight knit mess of my life. And I see my personal life impacting and influencing my professional life (and vice versa). However, sometimes my blurred boundaries are not sustainable, especially since I am no longer a traditional student. My trip to the Midwest couldn’t have come at a better time. I symbolically turned off my work computer and said, “all of that can wait.”
On the airplane from State College to Chicago, I felt free. I read my book for fun and opened up my laptop and actually wrote for the first time in months. I pulled up essays I have picked at for years and combined them in a way that was exciting and thrilling again. I felt in the grove again.