Today marks the one month anniversary of my return home from the hospital. I’m more or less back to my normal routine, still a little more tired than usual, but able to manage through my travel and work schedule pretty well. There are still times when any physical activity – things I used to take for granted, like climbing forty steps to the train station – leaves me long winded and out of breath. But I’m hoping to begin working out again after I get my other issue addressed.
This other issue? Bursitis of the left shoulder and forearm! I remember thinking how cool I was, doing a Pilates move while holding a medicine ball above my head last December. Three months later, and in slow progression, I can hardly move my left arm. Thank goodness the MRI says I don’t need surgery, but it does mean steroid treatment and weeks of physical therapy.
Apologies for the digression.
Last week, I had lunch with my very first boss in this country. The very first person who decided to take a chance on this 27 year-old economics major who worked as a copy girl in a law firm because she didn’t have a U.S. college education. He took me in, mentored me and trained me in my profession. That was over twenty years ago. And as I moved on to other industries, rose above the ranks, switched jobs until I settled into this one fifteen years ago, we kept in touch. Last week’s lunch was the first time I’d seen him in years – there were three of us when he first started his auditing firm. Now they’ve expanded tenfold and he drives a Maserati. “You’re still the same,” he laughed, when I teased him about driving a sleek, fast car in a city where traffic moves so slowly. I think, no I’m sure, I enjoyed our lunch way more than he did. It’s like we never missed a beat, never stopped seeing each other. Our comfortable banter, no longer as boss and employee but as friends, proved nostalgic and enlightening. Whether it was comparing how many board positions we each held (I beat him, by the way), making me promise him I’d enroll in the Executive Check Up program at the Mayo Clinic, or lecturing me about my spending and (lack of) saving habits – I realized that I made the right decision to reconnect with those who invested in me. I took him to my home away from home – the Soho House – where I showed him the exact place I would sit and write in the evenings, regaled him with stories about the celebrities I’ve seen, and humbled him with the dismal results of my book sales.
He’s not the only one I’ve reconnected with in the month that I’ve been back. Lately, I’ve been making a serious effort to reach out to the people in my life who’ve mattered all along, people I’d subconsciously pushed to the side in the last few years while trying to keep up with myself. There’s my best friend from high school, my best friend from my first few years in Chicago. I even set up a daily chat page with my sisters, making sure I stopped by each day to fill them in on useless stuff. I’ve been sitting on the couch more often these days, surrounded by my family – granted I still keep crazy work and travel hours, when I am with them, I AM with them.
Through this all, I am learning more about myself than I ever had before. You see, during the time that I lost myself, I wasted so much time trying to find love and friendships in the wrong places. It took me a few years, a whole evolution from blessings in the form of love and loss and success and failure to learn that my core has always stayed the same. I didn’t have to change my friends, leave my family, look beyond what I already had. The things that kept me grounded, the people who have loved and supported me, were always here.
They never left.