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Here or There: Opening Chapter

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Have you ever run into someone right after a vacation who didn’t realize you had ever left?

This happened to me the other day. I ran into a colleague who I hadn’t seen in over a month. We dived into the standard Midwestern: “Hey, how are ya? How ya been?” but instead of responding with the regular, “Good, good,” I replied that I was jet-lagged.

Oh yeah? Did you go on a trip?

Yep. Just got back from Italy.

For two-and-a-half weeks, my wife and I were 5,000+ miles away, traveling from Rome to Florence to Cinque Terre. And, for as far away from Chicago as I felt that we were, I realized—at least to this co-worker—my absence was no different than had I been in one of the other office buildings. They were Here. I was There.

After we walked our separate ways, I had the same dazed look on my face as a college freshman who just heard the universe is still expanding. I thought to myself, “There are really only two places in the world: Here or There.”


The reality is we spend most of our time Here, but we love There. Just listen to the way people say Here. It’s always aggressive and desperate. I’m dyin’ here! Get me outta here! There’s an exhaustion with Here. Oh, here we go again. Here, just listen to me.

How about the world’s most famous and effective pickup line: Hey, let’s get out of here. Why does it work? Because everyone wants to get out of a Here. Or listen to the lady down the street pleading to her dog: “Here, boy, here. Here!” We’re begging because even a dog doesn’t want to come to a Here.

Compare it to There. “Hey, whatcha guys doing over there?” “What’s going on over there?” “Look, over there!” There’s hope. There’s mystery. There’s even comfort. There, there, everything’s gonna be alright.

A There is inspiring. How did we rally millions of Americans to fight in a giant war? Start the music: “Over THERE! Over THERE!” People instinctively started marching.

When somebody uses the cliché, “It’s neither here nor there,” I couldn’t disagree more. It’s ONLY Here or There. That’s it! There are no other options. The wisest person in the world is the operator who answers the phone, and when you ask, “Is Robert in today?” they reply, “Nope. He’s not Here.” They don’t have to say where he is. Don’t have to distinguish if he’s on a trip, if he’s sick, or if he’s out playing golf. He’s just. Not. Here.

But we can’t get enough of There. So, we travel. We go all around the world. Then we come back Here and sit at a table with a group of friends and talk about our favorite trips. We were in Italy. Oh my gosh, I wanna go to Italy so bad. We were in Japan. Oh, I’d love to see Japan. We did two weeks in Paris. Oh, Paris, that’s on our bucket list for sure.

I would argue there is no difference between these destinations to someone who is Here. It’s just a different There. Eat new food. See new things. Meet new people. But, at its core, the trip is fun because you’ve escaped a Here. You could get the same thrill by taking a sick day. Or going to an appointment. Like, have you ever taken a random Wednesday off of work? You’re the happiest person in the world. And all you did was go to the dentist! But you broke the routine. Switched things up from a Here to a There. And it didn’t cost thousands of dollars.

There is also this assumption that people over There have it better than us. Could you imagine living over There? But, to them, it’s a Here. Nobody over there is saying, “What do you wanna do tonight?” “Oh, I dunno, I figured I’d go stare at the Colosseum for a couple of hours, just really take it in.”