What’s next?

“Some folks like to get away,
Take a holiday from the neighborhood,
Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood.
But I’m takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River line,
I’m in a New York state of mind.”

Just as I was sitting down to write, I flipped on “The Voice” (my guilty pleasure) only to find Britton Buchanan kicking of Monday night’s “knock outs” with this Billy Joel classic. It struck a chord in me, because I feel like it all rings true. New York City has always held a special place in my heart, but lately, I’ve been that person who “likes to get away,” even from a neighborhood… a CITY I’ve only lived in for five months.

It’s not an easy (or cheap) way of thinking or living, but I’ve always wondered, “What’s next?” Honestly, as I’ve learned more about myself over the last several years, I almost can’t believe I only transferred colleges once. Here’s why:

Thinking back to the earliest years I can remember of my childhood, I remember wanting to become a *litigator* as soon as I found out what the word meant—probably because I’m a pretty solid arguer and I always get what I want. Pretty specific goal for a kid, huh?

A few years later, as I discovered my ear for music and taught myself to play every instrument I could get my hands on, I was set on becoming a professional musician. But somehow, as a young adult, the “real world” become even realer to me and with my love of math and chemistry, I entered college as a prepharmacy major—I mean, no one actually makes it in music, right?

Yeah, that lasted all of one year. I left St. Olaf, headed to the University of Minnesota and pursued journalism. Of course, I’ll add that I’m still a solid arguer and stubborn as heck, and I didn’t let the music die—throughout college I really got into writing, playing and recording with Goodbye Child.

But, today, I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a recording artist. Get this: since graduating I’ve had NINE jobs. In all fairness, that includes Starbucks and two concurrent part time jobs before I landed my first full-time gig at KCTV in Kansas City… BUT, it’s nine jobs in nine years nonetheless. My job history itself is a perfect example of my “What’s next?” mentality. And I’m not suggesting that’s right for everyone, I made each career move for a very specific reason, knowing that “job hopping” could come back to bite me in the butt. Thank goodness it didn’t.

“What’s next?” made its way into my housing scene, too. In that same nine-year span since graduating college, I’ve lived in seven different apartments in three different states (four different cities). I’m not sure if it’s the joy of something new or the fear of being stuck that takes hold of me, but I’m always on the go.

Now, as a 30-year-old living on my own for the first time in my life, “What’s next?” has a different meaning. I snagged my dream job here in Chicago, so it’s safe to say I’m not going anywhere else anytime soon, but I still want to explore.

As many of you know, being without my other half has been sad and, at times, frustrating. However, I’m using this time to take advantage of the ability to “get up and go” whenever I please. It started with the desire to go plane spotting in a new city (even though it doesn’t get much better than Chicago O’Hare) coupled with my longing to be in the sky.

A couple months back I hopped on Google Flights and I saw that I could fly to Atlanta (there and back in one day) for $80 roundtrip on an American Basic Economy fare. That trip went swimmingly and thus, my new favorite hobby was born: pouncing on cheap airfares to anywhere. A few weeks later I hit Tampa, and following that, Boston.

These daytrips have, of course, set me back a few hundred bucks… but you know what? This is the first (and I sure hope last) time in my life that I’m living alone and have the freedom to go where I want, when I want. Of course, if I could choose, I’d have Scott here now and forgo these on-a-whim trips, but that’s simply not an option.

Lucky for me, he WILL be here from May till September… and I’m so excited to see what summer has in store for us. Knowing that, I did manage to squeeze in just one more adventure in the next couple weeks: Denver. I’ve been to the Mile High City once, but I was just passing through and didn’t have a chance to explore… so I’m really pumped.

Will this habit pick back up in the fall while Scott is finishing up his last semester of school? It’s hard to say, but oddly enough, that’s what I like about the way I’ve been living lately. My obsessive-compulsive, worry-wart ways have taken a backseat to the impulsive, fun-seeking girl I’ve grown to be. And it’s been pretty darn fun.

I was born a dreamer…

“All dreams start out small,

Sometimes you don’t know they’re there at all.

But I lay awake wishing on the stars,

All the while knowing in my heart.

I was born a dreamer,

A wide-eyed believer in things unseen.

I was born a dreamer,

Oh say you believe in me.”

Those lyrics are from one of my favorite songs of all time, “I Was Born a Dreamer” by Shel. And now more than ever I feel like those words ring so true.

I’ve always been a dreamer. As far back as I can remember, I’ve approached situations and ideas with the wide eyes, eagerness and often times naivety of a child. And to this day, nothing about that has changed.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been having a recurring dream that I, myself, can fly. Now, as an adult, that notion and those dreams are even more meaningful, because I know that it will simply never happen. Sounds like a total “Debbie Downer” reason to call something “meaningful,” right? It’s not though.

I mean… I’ll never be able to hold my hands straight above my head and launch into the sky the way I do in my dreams—but that’s what makes the dream so special. I love going to bed each night and hoping and praying that I might be so lucky to take a flight in those dark, quiet hours I lay in my bed.

The other night, however, I had a somewhat strange variation of that decades-old dream. Please, hold your applause—I mean… laughter—till the end. I dreamt that I was none other than a queen. No, I wasn’t wearing a crown… I wasn’t sitting on a throne… not THAT kind of queen.

I was a big, beautiful Boeing 747 and I was very obviously flying due East over the Atlantic. I climbed and I continued to climb. I was working so hard to stay airborne—for some reason it felt like everything was working against me, like gravity was even stronger than it already is.

The weird thing is, I’ve felt like that in “real life” lately. I feel like I am something big and beautiful… like it’s my time to shine… my time to fly—but I’m working really hard to make sure I keep it that way without crashing down.

Four months into my new job, I still love it so, so much. That doesn’t mean, however, that it hasn’t been hard. Being in a new city is fun and scary, starting a new job is exciting and stressful, and living alone is liberating and depressing.

I’m starting to think that the poor TSA folks at MSP think I’m completely bananas, as I usually show up with tears streaming down my face. It is really hard to bid farewell to my partner in crime and it never gets easier—never.

Lucky for me, Scott was recently brought on as an intern at an engineering firm in Chicago, which means he will live with me for roughly four months, before heading back to Minneapolis to tackle his final semester of school. I’m so proud of him and so excited to have someone to come home to once again.

I know there will always be both good days and bad days, just like there are always going to be both blue skies and grey, turbulent skies. The cool thing is that my intense love of aviation has not only made flight exciting, as opposed to utterly terrifying, for me… it has helped me to embrace and actually love hitting rough air. I love—and I mean LOVE—the chop.

All in all, I’m just hoping I can use what I’ve learned through flight (that everything will be OK despite the bumps) to help ease the pain of the tough times in everyday life. I’m not a religious person, but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Tomorrow, and the next day, and even the day after that are going to happen… and I’m going to make the best of each and every one of those days.