Sweet Home Chicago!

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Amicis! I’m here! I haven’t blogged since last Thursday, so I wanted to give you all some updates. A lot has happened in the last four days. I’m going to go into more detail on tonight’s podcast, but for those of you who prefer to read instead of listen, here’s some news…

Friday was a rough day. It was time to rehome Ember, and it broke my heart. It’s one of those ‘collateral damage’ moments I reference in this situation. Shit rolls downhill. I know people have strong feelings about pets and our responsibility to them. I agree that if you take on a pet, it is a life long commitment, and you consider them in all of your life plans. However, I cannot physically handle three senior dogs in this new situation, two of them needing a high level of care. It’s exhausting, expensive, and stressful when I have help in Atlanta. It would be nearly impossible for me to manage here in Chicago with everything going on. You also have to think of the quality of life for the dog. Ember’s issues create a lot of stress and anxiety for her. It’s not like Kina’s issues that have her sleeping like a lump all day.

I had actually made the decision to put Ember down. She’s eight years old, and the stress of a life change would be too much for her. Also, let’s be honest. Finding a new home for a sick senior dog is next to impossible. As I was crying in the waiting room because I was forced to make this decision, an angel appeared. A lovely lady was there rescuing cats, and saw me crying. She came over to console me and we started talking. I told her about Ember and the situation I found myself in.

She and her husband are living my dream. They are retired and have a farm outside Atlanta where they house dogs like Ember. A retirement home for dogs and cats, if you will. She fell in love with Ember and offered to take her in. Ember would get the care and attention she needed and I would get pics, updates, and I can visit whenever I’m in town. It was a literal miracle.

The day Ember left, she hopped into the BMW and was like, “BYE, BITCH! I AM RICH NOW!” happily beginning the next phase of her life. I was still heartbroken because I felt like I failed the commitment I made to her, but happy she will enjoy however many months or years she has left. I posted the updates on Instagram stories over the weekend. She’s happy as a lark, and has fallen in love with her new Dad. They watch The Weather Channel together.

After all of that, it was time to hit the road with the huskies. My nerves were shot, and my anxiety was through the roof, so the first leg of the journey was a rough one for me. The traffic in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville along with the terrible weather in the mountains simply fried me, and I had to stop after we got just past Nashville. Kaya was also wound up, probably because she was sensing my inner screaming, and she was done, too. Kina? Kina was a lump sleeping in the back the whole time which added to my anxiety because she is medically fragile, and I worry that the stress of so much change will be too much for her.

So I pulled off the road to a Red Roof Inn (because pets stay free) expecting the room to be the usual $50 or something. The front desk person, a woman who could not possibly hate her life and job more, was like, "$144, please.”

“For a room? Here?” I asked, trying so hard not to freak out.

“Yeah, CMA fest is here this weekend, so the rates go up,” she answered like she was going to throw herself off a cliff after her shift.

Fine. Whatever. Here’s my card. My blood sugar is low and I can’t go to jail tonight.

I was so cranky and post anxiety worn out, I ate gas station food for dinner because I was afraid I would snap if I interacted in any more public situations. I literally growled at a poor Target employee when she greeted me at the self checkout.

All three of us slept like the dead, and we were off to finish the trip early Saturday morning. That leg went SO much better. I was chill, so Kaya was chill, and I smiled when we crossed the Illinois state line.

I did it. A huge amount of pressure and stress left me immediately. I’m home. The hard part is over.

This isn’t a slam on Atlanta. I still have to work there. It’s just been a constant struggle for me there and when I’m here, even though life is just as complicated, I feel like I can breathe. It’s familiar, predictable, and well…HOME. I didn’t leave Chicago because I hated it and wanted a change…

The girls and I settled in to where we will be staying until everything with the kids gets figured out, and I did what I always do my first night here; inhaled an Italian Beef sandwich and cannoli. Again, I felt so free that I can walk EVERYWHERE. Everything I need, my new office, my side hustle… all within walking distance. Convenience! It’s also not a gajillion oppressive degrees outside. Refreshing. A sweatshirt in June? Yes, please. I haven’t had tit sweat in four days. It’s a whole new world.

Sunday, I hung out with one of my best childhood friends, and terrorized my hometown. I know the novelty of me being home is going to keep my dance card full at first, but it’s nice to be loved. I’m not complaining. When the newness wears off, everyone will go back into their normal routines, and I’m okay with that. I’m going to be working around the clock anyway.

Yep, work, work, work. Again, I’m okay with this, because let’s be real. I have nothing else going on and I have a singular focus right now, and that’s the kids. I had my first Chicago work meeting yesterday, and between this gig and Atlanta work, my days are now booked. Good. I also got a bartending gig for nights and weekends. Again, I literally have nothing going on, so I might as well work. If you think that makes me a loser, well, I invite your judgments. I don’t care about having four jobs. Work now, coast later. Besides, my overhead has quadrupled and it’s not going to pay for itself.

I have not been able to see or speak to the kids since I’ve been back. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

So all in all, it’s good to be home. I understand this is the honeymoon phase, and the new joy will wear off and real life will begin then. It does feel right though, and I can’t help but believe that everything working out the way it is some kind of divine serendipity. I have a different kind of confidence here I don’t have in Atlanta.

Let’s do this.

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen