WARNING: BG Nostalgia Ahead

Did you miss me? I know it’s been a while since I posted, and, typically, now would be the time when I insert a series of vague (if not cryptic) excuses as to why I’ve been away so long, followed by a promise to be more faithful moving forward.

Yeah, not going to do that here.

See, I promised myself when I started this blog that it would be without apology. Don’t get me wrong. I love you all dearly, but this isn’t really about you. It’s about me, and sanity, and an outlet for some of the schpeels that speech and debate once afforded me. It’s also about cohesive thoughts. I mean, anyone can puke up a blog post. I have on many an occasion. But this is a puke-free zone, so I try not to post unless I feel like I have something worth saying.

That being said, please feel free to kick my butt if you’re wanting to hear more of me, or if you’re wanting to hear my thoughts on a specific subject. Special thanks to a couple of friends for doing so without prompting. You guys keep me honest.

Ok, enough of the disclaimers- I deal with those enough at work. Let’s talk about Bowling Green.

If you know me, like, at all, you know I went to Bowling Green last weekend for the first time since moving away over a year ago. Why’d it take me so long? Well, things like a car and cash are kind of critical ingredients for a successful venture south, especially since I knew I wouldn’t want to think about a budget while down there.

Then there were the emotional reasons.

The cause of my (admittedly abrupt) departure from the good ole BG was multi-faceted. On one hand, life as a single mom with more baggage than an overstuffed air freight was… difficult, to say the least. Always more bills than money, and always more trouble than peace. On the other hand, my family was in Chicago. Family has always been a really big part of my life, and it killed me that Ava was not as close to her grandparents, aunts, and uncles as I had been. Finally, it came down to needing to change something- drastically. I was in the rut of the century- settling for less than I deserved, making strings of bad decisions, and without any big opportunities ahead of me. It was time to go.

Even with every reason in the world to leave, I didn’t really want to. Bowling Green is a magical, mystical place. By which I mean it’s strange and inexplicable. It attracts the biggest hodgepodge of unique, dynamic people, and I was beyond blessed to have found myself surrounded by the most wonderful, loving, and interesting of the bunch. The Speech Team, as cliche as it sounds, literally was like family to me. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and between Speech folk and the Grille crew, I had dozens of hands on deck at all times. On top of that, the level of conversations that took place on swinging on porches and curled into couches… I can’t even describe it. From heart-to-hearts to abstract contemplation to political throw downs- it was pretty fantastic.

That’s part of the reason it took me so long to visit. See, as much as I love BG and the people in it, I knew it wasn’t the right place for me at this point in my life. I also knew that my will power (at the time- not now!) was functionally non-existent, and I would probably try to move down against all conventional wisdom if I went back too soon. So I waited.

And it was weird.

Some things had changed. Brew Co.- my favorite watering hole when I lived there- is now Cabanna’s. All you can drink nights are gone. The crew at the Grille has dwindled down to a handful of familiar faces. Even the Speech landscape seems drastically different.

Part of it is that I have changed. I guess I just hadn’t realized how much. I walked into Brew Co. (Cabanna’s- whatever– it’s functionally just new signage), and found myself getting my ass grabbed six times in a two minute time frame. Probably wouldn’t have phased me a year ago. This time around, I felt like a skittish lamb in a meat market. Such an inappropriate simile, but whatever. It may not seem like that big of a difference, but if you ever encountered me out on a Thursday night, you know the fact that I was startled and not handling my business with sarcasm and sass demonstrates a marked transformation.

I found myself getting sentimental as I drove past my old duplex on Timbermill. So much had happened there. Ava was born, I was engaged, I was un-engaged, I began freelancing, I moved out, I moved back, I moved out again… It all seems like yesterday, and yet a complete lifetime ago. Sitting atop the steps of Van Meter and gazing across the BG lights like I did nearly every night of my first semester of college was so, so, so surreal.

Fast forward to Wheaton. It’s rough, guys- not gonna lie. There is no Grille crew with their regularly scheduled bar stops. There are no speech parties- that’s for sure. Finding someone capable of holding their own in a conversation on politics, economics, philosophy, or- really- anything of meaning is difficult. As a single mom in the most dogmatic and conservative town I’ve ever encountered, I’m sort of a pariah, especially because I have no regrets and refuse to apologize for the best thing that ever happened to me. There are a handful of people that I love and have built some awesome memories with here, but it’s just not the same.

I can’t really complain too much. I have a kick-ass job. I have an awesome family. My daughter is quite possibly the coolest kid to ever walk the face of the earth. I know I’m in a much better place financially, emotionally and mentally than when I was in BG. In reality, as much as it tugged at the heart-strings to wallow in nostalgia, and as much fun as I had with Chad, Ganer, Joele, Joff, Carrie, Ben, Ben, Jenny, Dan, Kelli, Squeaks and all, I know the right decision was made in the end.

So, thanks, BG, for being such an important, memorable, enjoyable chapter of my life, and for the hospitality during my visit. Ava and I will be road trippin’ it down over Columbus Day weekend, and I promise our visits will not be as spread out moving forward.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled snarkiness.

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