It’s weird to feel at home when you’re not.

This weekend, a whirlwind trip brought me through Chicago and I ached for everything I gave up.

Waiting on the weather-worn platform to metro into the city, I was transported back to so many summers before. Stifling heat accosted me every time I stepped outdoors, while inside, icy blasts of AC immediately dried sweat in salty, sticky patterns on the back of my neck. This is not just Chicago but it is Chicago and her hellishly hot summer days…

There is a sweet wholesomeness to the Midwest. Everyone talks about the friendly faces and slower pace, but it’s more than that.

In the Midwest, there is a spirit of generosity, of saying “excuse me” when you jostle someone, of putting the damn iPhone away and making eye contact with strangers. This is the land of honey blonde highlights, curly hair with straightened, side-swept bangs, and wide faces pancaked with make-up hiding flaws that barely exist.

On Friday morning, I watched a pretty girl erase herself on the train. With a hand mirror and a battalion of brushes, she powdered and concealed and blushed and transformed herself into another. Somehow, her own insecurities made me feel better about myself. I thought smugly, I don’t need to do that. I’m ok as is.

Turns out a weekend in the Midwest was just the escape I needed.

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