When I changed makeup lines I knew that I would have to start all over. I wouldn’t lose the knowledge that I had worked so hard to gain, but I would have to learn all of the basics of my new brand and every makeup line does things a little differently. For me that jump was even larger because I was shifting from a skincare oriented brand to an artistry brand so when my manager told me that they would be sending me away to Dallas for three days of training I was excited. I started working in December so training school didn’t happen right away. To be honest I forgot about it. I just went to work at counter and tried to learn as much as I could from the people around me. One night in February, though, my manager called me: they had a date for my basic training class and instead of Dallas they would be sending me to Chicago.
I don’t have the best and happiest history with Chicago, though to be fair when your entire experience with a city is a diverted flight into O’Hare and all you really want is to go home you do find yourself annoyed with everything. To say I wasn’t exactly giddy about Chicago would be a fair statement. I was excited to go to school and learn, but it was cold outside, winter hadn’t been super kind, and I was having subtle flashbacks of just how much I hated O’Hare. And I was flying out on my least favorite airline at a very early hour. The location of my hotel definitely softened things for me (who doesn’t want to stay on the Magnificent Mile?) but I had no idea what to expect.
My departing flight was delayed, delayed, delayed and then cancelled. An ice storm in other parts of the country had really messed with flights into Chicago and since the commuter flight between Kansas City and Chicago was a regular thing killing the early one made strategic sense. My contact was able to get me rebooked onto the next flight out, but I was still stranded at the airport for several hours and was going to be late for my first day of class. I eventually departed and had a flawless flight into the Windy City. They didn’t lose my luggage and the ground transportation was right there waiting. My driver was amazing and took me a creative way to my hotel, explaining the city and telling me stories the whole way. She also gave me a quick tutorial on how to use the mass transit systems and a list of food suggestions and service people to look for. Weaving our way from the airport to downtown I could feel myself opening up to the city.
I’d been in a funk and a rut for awhile. Writing was hard. Staying on task with the things that made me happy was hard. I felt low energy and uninspired, almost as though I was trudging through life and I had hoped that getting out of town would help. I prayed (literally) that Chicago would inspire me and that whatever was that was missing inside of me would be found. Training class filled my mind with so many new ideas and perspectives. I met amazing people and learned wonderful things, but every afternoon as soon as we dismissed for the day I found myself rushing out into the cold and the city with arms open to embrace it all.
Walking up the street to Lake Shore Dr where I could get a view of Lake Michigan had been high on my priority list. When I actually set sight on Lake Michigan smack at rush hour and in the dying light of day it was as though everything that had been missing inside of me flooded me all at once. Maybe it was the colors. Maybe it was the sharpness of the cold and the energy of everyone going somewhere. Maybe it was the scope of the city but in the midst of rushing cars and students at Northwestern hurrying about I felt the perfect stillness of being exactly where I was supposed to be. I felt at home.
I walked back to my hotel and met up with a classmate deeply inspired. We decided to do a little bit of shopping (again, who wouldn’t want to go shopping on Michigan Avenue?) and I found myself buying things that fed the inspiration: a handful of Inglot eyeshadows selected to match the shifting tones of the Chicago sky, a pair of burgundy oxford-style heels as rich as the tones of sunset, a spiffy blazer with architectural details that reminded me of the buildings. A shamrock shot glass, just because. I’m certain that words and stories started to wedge themselves into my brain, though they haven’t blossomed just yet. When things feel full and right sometimes it’s more about impressions of the moment than the fully formed thoughts.
On the last day I was reluctant to leave. I felt a sense of longing already starting as ground transportation carried me back towards O’Hare and by the time I sat waiting for my flight back to Kansas City I could feel some part of me unraveling. My prayers had been answered: I was leaving Chicago better than when I had arrived, my heart and soul full again, my mind on fire. I’m already anxious to go back. I’m already planning a return. And in the meantime? I have my spark back.
I love Chicago.