Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Farewell Trip - Part I

Southwest announced a sale just before Thanksgiving; I thought it would be fun to have a quick visit to see a friend or two before departing for Armenia. I couldn’t decide among Chicago, the Bay Area and Los Angeles – so I did all three! And somehow I missed some major snowstorms and had all-but-one on-time flights.

I decided to rent a car in Chicago – I thought it might be cold and didn’t want to be walking a lot, and I thought I might be going back and forth a lot and wanted to make the most of my time. It was fun to drive while there! Last time I drove through I came from the west and traveled along the route of my old commute from Keebler; this time I came from Midway and traveled the route of my old commute from Paterno! I parked downtown and went to the new (I think) French Market at Ogilvie Station; my friend Ruth met me there and we had banh mi. Again, no Saigon Sandwich, but a pretty good one. We walked around the market for a bit and I drove her back to work. On to Edie’s; she was working from home that day, and we talked for what seemed like a few minutes but what I think was two hours! I went on to my storage space with ambitious goals – the picture frames, the mirrors and the books, the three things I would have done next had I had more time in my week there in 2009. I had a rough idea of where I had put those boxes, but it took a while to get to them. I then got started, and then it started getting dark – and I realized my storage space doesn’t have a light! It has windows with beautiful natural light. Now that I think of it, maybe it does have a light? Anyway, I couldn’t find one, and I’d had enough for that day anyway. I had thought about going to the Blackhawks game that night, but realized I wanted to spend more time with more friends! Saw a bunch of them for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Later, I gave Edie and Fred one of my rugs; they’ve now had boxes from Morocco in their basement for two years longer than I thought they’d have them. What a beautiful rug! I look forward to visiting it – and to seeing my other rugs someday!

The next day was sad – my friend Mike had been diagnosed with cancer a mere four weeks before, had been in the hospital for two weeks, and passed away, much too soon and much too young. Mike and Carol had been the first to RSVP for that night’s dinner; he had been fine when I sent out the invite. I had coffee with a friend to start the day and then headed for the storage space. Got through a box of picture frames (which I think was all of them) and a box of mirrors (which I don’t think was all of them) when Carol called with the news, and I decided not to start on any books. There are a lot more boxes of books than I remembered, anyway – it might be its own project. And there are a lot more boxes labeled “files” than I remembered – I had gotten rid of boxes and boxes of papers last time! Why are there are still so many? Definitely for another time. My friend Barb came to the neighborhood for lunch and coffee, I went back to Edie’s to do a little work on her computer, and then I met more friends at California Pizza Kitchen (yes, again!). This night it was all people who knew Carol and Mike, and I am glad I was in Chicago to share some grieving and some memories. I was able to see Carol for coffee the next morning; I’m really glad I could see her. It’s so sad. I met Mike’s sister, too, which was nice.

I had some time before returning the car and catching the next flight, so I stopped by the Lincoln Park Conservatory (I hadn’t been there on any of my trips in 2009) and the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was nice to walk around the heated greenhouse rooms and while the zoo was cold, it was pretty empty, so both gave me some place for contemplation, some beauty, some appreciation for life.

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