I spent the last few weeks working in planes and airports, balancing my laptop precariously on the tray hanging from the back of the seat, poised to throw my body on top of it like an overprotective mother when the jerkstore in front of me decides to recline into my workspace (a jerkstore move that doesn’t actually give you more leg room but significantly diminishes mine, by the way), and eating fast food against my will. I’ve never felt less productive or more professional.
Until this week. I spent this week working in hotels and restaurants, spreading myself and my laptop across the giant white bed with chocolate covered cherries in arm’s reach on the nightstand and E! on TV. I took notes over seafood salads and unlimited sparkling water. I stood out against the hard and shiny Beverly Hills backdrop like a sore midwestern thumb in my cheap black suit and piles of binders and I didn’t finish half of what I wanted to, so distracting were the comforts around me. And yet, I never felt so good about my job.
This time last year, I would have spent a trip like this uncomfortable and every unnecessary indulgence would have shot pangs of homesick longing for my “real” life right through me. In fact, four years ago, I did take a trip like this and I hated it enough that I came back and sent a deposit to Michigan Law, thereby crossing UCLA and three name droppy private schools off my list. This year, though? I loved it. The fluffy robe. The fancy dinners. Even the long hours. Hey, look at me, getting used to my job and the lifestyle it allows, just like everybody said I would!
As much as I enjoyed my time away, though, it felt even better coming home. So much so that instead of taking a paid-for-by-the-firm cab home from the airport, I hopped on the blue line, and then on an eastbound bus and let the less-famous sights of the Chicago streets between the airport and my apartment wash over me: the brick three flats, the overgrown front yards, and the measly, meandering northwestern branch of the Chicago river. Besides, all the chocolate cherries in the world are no match for sitting on the floor with a pup on my lap and Husband nearby.