— Heather Billings (@hbillings) April 7, 2012
I swore to myself that I was going to leave early for work today in order to attend 7 p.m. Good Friday service. That would leave plenty of time, I decided, to down a granola bar dinner and get to a 10 p.m. concert — if I still felt awake enough to go.
At 6:45, my boss was sitting on my desk, helping me figure out what stupid thing I’d done to break the nav bar I was trying to style. At 7:15, our project manager came back from the gym and asked why I hadn’t gone home yet. At 7:30, she said she was just going to abduct me for dinner.
It’s nice to have another woman on the team. We do, however, really need to stop discovering similarities between ourselves, because it will reach frightening, clone-like levels if it goes much further. The first similarity we ever found was that we both share the middle name “Jay,” and that neither of us had ever encountered another woman with that name. This week, when thanks to her determination, we finally got to order nameplates, we both decided to flaunt the “Jay.” But the coolest idea came from one of her friends: If we were a crimefighting duo, our name should be the Jayhawks.
Jayhawks are hungry animals, I have decided.
Neither of us has really explored Chicago enough to know what’s a.) good, b.) uncrowded, and c.) on the way home. So after some preliminary Yelping, we settled on XOCO, which is sort of like what Chipotle would be like if Rick Bayless took over and made it kick ass. We walked in and immediately wanted one of everything, including soft-serve vanilla ice cream swirled with honey maple syrup and sprinkled with streusel topping and bacon. BACON. We convened our first Jayhawks meeting over two tortas, the aforementioned ice cream and a churro, which was altogether too much food (though rest assured, we let none of it go to waste). It was easily the most delicious churro I’ve ever had, which I consider something of an endorsement. (Altogether, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Mexican food in Chicago.)
We sat and ate and talked and ate and talked and ate for a couple of hours. And at this important business meeting, we decided that churros are delicious, bacon on ice cream is delicious, avocado is delicious, we both feel lucky to work with such wonderful people, and neither of us can get used to the idea of living in “the Midwest.”
Around 10:30, we got on the red line and headed toward our respective homes. I was glad I hadn’t spent much on my concert tickets, because I’d missed half the opening act and was feeling more sluggish than social after so much food. I’d bought the tickets at the prodding of the same friend who had introduced me to the band several months ago. So while I knew I enjoyed the duo’s harmonies, I wasn’t severely personally invested. But when I checked my Twitter feed, I saw that another friend of mine was going to be there and was encouraging me to come out.
Noooo, you’re tired, said my brain, the logical part of me. That was the part made me start walking toward home before I thought, “This is dumb,” and flagged a cab. What did I have to lose, besides the $18 I’d paid for the ticket?
The downside to being late was that we couldn’t actually get in the auditorium, so my friend, her friend and I sat in the bar area and half-listened, half-talked. I’d love to see First Aid Kit again when I’m situated better, but it was a great, low-key way to end the evening. I even got to duck outside to call my dad and wish him a happy birthday.
And we managed to squeeze in for the last two songs, including the finale, which encapsulates so much of my life so well.
I keep running around, trying to find the ground, but my head is in the stars and my feet are in the sky.
I’m nobody’s baby, but I’m everybody’s girl. I’m the queen of nothing. I’m the king of the world.