I promised myself that I would notice 'me' when I was in Chicago.
Not exclusively my running form or how my body felt in motion during the race...
but that I would pay attention to how I felt roaming the city streets, navigating the 'L' stops, engaging in conversation with college friends, bumping into strangers, and in general being out of 'mom mode.'
I've read that at any given time, we compartmentalize pieces of ourselves...mostly out of survival, sometimes for the purposes of organization, and ultimately, because we prioritize the season that we find ourselves in and back burner excess so as not to get confused or off-track.
But those parts of us that are temporarily not engaged, do not go away....and when they are awakened, if only briefly, they remind us that we are complex, alive, and multi-dimensional.
Moments after I finished the Chicago Half Marathon race, I sat down next to a man on the shuttle bus. We were trekking back to the L Stop that brought us here.
I introduced myself. Told him where I was from. And that I had a husband and three kiddos eagerly awaiting my return to congratulate me on the achievement.
He told me that he was a professor at the University of Chicago in literature. His focus is in Irish literature and he'd just finished a sabbatical in Ireland with a stint in northern Italy.
We chatted about my time studying abroad in Greece and Turkey, the Windy City, running, races, family and how great it is to do something completely outside of your comfort zone.
He mentioned that he wasn't married and had no children. "Frankly, I wasn't sure how to fit that into my life. I applaud you." I laughed and said, "I envy your travels to Italy and around the world." He promised me that I'd get there one day.
Those parts of us that enjoy meeting strangers, shooting the shit over a bus ride or a beer, stealing moments to engage our brains in the latest political debacle or philosophical debate...they don't go away. They may be dormant and hibernating. But they never leave us.
And that to me is extraordinarily refreshing.