Saturday, January 8, 2011

Welcome Back to Chicago

I spent the next week in Chicago, and it was here that I felt the tough transition back to reality. Even though I wasn’t staying, it felt like coming home, no longer like traveling. It was a shift from seeing places and things and also seeing friends to seeing friends and also doing a few things. In retrospect, I may have overbooked myself, but I did have a lot of friends to see! And in the past I could see friends and then go to my own home; even though Edie’s is a home-away-from-home, I wanted to spend time with her and her family when I was at their house, not sequester myself upstairs, so I didn’t have much quiet time. I saw friends for breakfast, lunch, coffee, chats, dinner, and games.

I went ice skating in Millennium Park; I love ice skating and had missed it! I had a hair appointment and a massage appointment; after all those years the hair and massage people are my friends. I went with my friend Carol (with whom I had photographed Cows on Parade) to Obama’s house in Hyde Park, or as close as we could get to it. I went to a Blackhawks game and saw the transformation with new ownership – excitement in the building once again and a good team on the ice. Of course, the crowning achievement was their 2010 Stanley Cup, but you could see in 2009 that this team was something special! It was Hard Hat Night. When we got the hard hats, I said to my friend, “I want to see a hat trick, so we can see all of these hats on the ice.” And sure enough, there was a hat trick! I forget who had it, Kane or Toews, but it was one of the two young superstars. Then the third goal was recalled! So I said there had to be a fourth goal to justify the hat-tossing – and there was! How exciting! It was an overtime win for the Blackhawks. Welcome back! I had attended a lot of sad games there over the years.

I attended class for three days – it felt good to be back in a school environment. Somehow, that didn’t seem like culture shock. What did, though, was going to the dentist and the doctor. Just the act of getting out my insurance card and paying the co-pay – and thinking about the paperwork to come – made me realize that I was back. There was a lot of paperwork to get into the Peace Corps and a lot to get out, but not a lot during. Now there will be paperwork all the time. Welcome back!

I also visited Chicago in March – the class I was scheduled attend was cancelled after I had bought the plane tickets, but I went anyway. Had a medical procedure, saw the dentist and the hairdresser again, picked up new clip-on sunglasses I’d ordered the month before, and saw more friends. I replaced the class with an independent study on social media for non-profits – something more useful to me than the class might have been!

I went back to Chicago again in May, for almost two weeks (thanks, hosts!). I gave a “precept” on my Morocco experiences to the Princeton Club of Chicago, which is still my only official Third Goal presentation. It was fun sharing my experiences, especially with an audience of mostly friends. I had my last class, saw some theatre and a movie and a Cubs game and a White Sox game, checked out the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, went to a job fair, and saw friends.

The driving reason for the May trip being so long was to go through my storage space with a professional organizer. Over the course of the week, we went through my wardrobe and donated of about a third of my clothes, threw away several boxes’ worth of papers, finally parted with the magazines I wasn’t ready to part with before I left, and loaded up a cart with other items for charity pickup. We also reorganized all the remaining boxes so I have a better handle on what I have. Of course, I sent several boxes to Edie and Howie from Morocco and my post-COS travels, but I would like to live a simpler life, and I will aim for that when I finally move my stuff to the imaginary studio or whatever my next home turns out to be. I’m posting this in advance of another Chicago trip that will go through the next things to go through – the books, picture frames and mirrors; they’ve been in the back of my mind for over a year, and maybe that will plant the seeds for the next storage-room priorities, or maybe I’ll have done all of the easy things. Still, I’m really happy I did as much as I did – I felt not only lighter in possessions, but also lighter in spirit.


  1. Definitely a good feeling to clear out stuff. :D

  2. And there is so much more to do!

    Thank you for reading and commenting! I know someone is out there!