A year ago today I said my farewells to most of my Champaign friends. I packed up my last few things from my job. I went out for drinks with my coworkers, except that Jill couldn’t drink, and Garret was blinded by the late afternoon sun. I had dinner at Bread Co, and a bourbon outside at the Esquire, too cold for the little dress I was wearing. I danced my ass off at 80s night, with lots of songs played by my DJ friend just for me, lots of laughs as one of the professors joined us, lots of sweaty happy hugs at the end of the night. The next morning I packed up the car, hugged Molly goodbye, had a last breakfast at Sam’s with a few sleepy friends, then hit the road with Jimi’s mix CD before I could lose my resolve and composure completely.
Do I still miss Champaign? Absolutely, almost every day. I miss my friends. I miss my job (though Karla is filling my shoes wonderfully, including insanely multi-tasking, though she’s taken it much further than I ever thought about). I miss our sunny cool apartment, and I miss our easy life, and I miss the way I could fly down University on yellow bike at 7am. I miss the garden patch, and knowing people everywhere we went, and eating and drinking (and smoking, but only sometimes) with Carl. The missing is palpable.
But there are really great things about being here, too. Today we biked down to Old Town for brunch and had a lovely time, even though we were drenched in sweat when we arrived. We’re better cooks and better partners. We’ve made some friends, and have found some favorite places. We have a funny Mina. Life is good, though the hole in my heart shaped like East Central Illinois hasn’t gotten any smaller.