Friends, I’m taking off tomorrow! Me and my suitcases are getting on a plane and when we land, we’ll be in Chicago.
I’m equal parts excited and nervous about this trip. There is a lot to be excited about. For starters, did I tell you that Daphna and Ian have twin baby boys? The twins are just shy of nine months. D tells me they are starting to play, and I can’t wait to see them in action. I am pretty good at playing, so I think we’re going to get along really well. In addition to the fun that D and I are planning—a cruise around the farmers’ market, walks with the boys, coffee in downtown Evanston, some homecooked meals—my friend Ammie and I have a cookie-baking date and then a dinner party later in the week, where we’re going to make almond crust pizzas and an avocado salad and remember how much fun we have cooking together. It’s going to be great.
I’m also hoping to spend some time alone, contemplating this place where I used to live but don’t any more. I think it will be important for me to remember my sense of place in the town that used to be home. Because I spent so much time alone when I lived in Evanston, I need some solitude to tap into that well of emotions inside of me. I want to see my old apartment building, the place that held me and my life for six years. I want to walk down to Lake Michigan and remember what it was like to live next to that cold, majestic body of water. I want to eat Japanese Pan Noodles at Noodles and Company, like I did so many times after a long day in the lab. I want to haunt the cookbook aisle of my old Borders, where I may even splurge on a new cookbook, though heaven knows I do not need a new cookbook. (Even so, got any suggestions for a good one? This bookworm loves books like a fruit fly loves wine!) And of course, I want to shop at Whole Foods because of all the things I left behind in Evanston (not counting people), I miss Whole Foods and our farmers’ market the most. (Japanese Pan Noodles are a close second, though.) Plus I promised a new Texas friend that I’d bring her back a jar of Whole Foods peanut butter (the organic crunchy kind, please).
I may visit the planetarium in Chicago, something I wanted to do in September after I finished my PhD work but never got around to doing. I also want to do a little shopping; I’m thinking about going to Crate and Barrel to find a KERF-style spoon. You know the ones, curvy and bright-colored. Is it strange to look forward to buying a spoon while on vacation? I’m also hoping to drag Daphna with me to Ann Taylor Loft, a store we both love, to do a little browsing and trying on of new things.
While I’m in Chicago, I’ll be doing some couch-surfing, staying with Daphna and Ian for most of the time but spending a night at Ammie’s. I hope it’s more fun than disconcerting—I haven’t had a sleepover with friends in a long time. I have to make sure I get enough sleep so that I can keep up with all these plans I’ve made!
I always get nervous before I travel, and this trip is no exception. Sometimes I think the nervous energy is good because it propels me to get everything done: the packing, the travel arrangements, the fixing of food to eat while in transit. It takes a lot of work to get my butt out the door. I have only myself to blame, me and my overpacking and my overly ambitious plans. Sometimes I wonder why can’t I be more like Matt, who shows up at my door for a weekend with nothing but the tiniest of brown bags. He is a man of the road, someone who knows how to travel lightly. I envy him, but that’s about all I can do. I don’t think I’m going to stop overpacking any time soon.
With that thought in mind, I’d better get back to my suitcases and my last-minute running around. I’m not sure when you’ll hear from me again—I may pop in to say hello while I’m in my jewel of a city, but I just don’t know. Certainly you’ll see me here again after Texas welcomes me back in ten days.
Chicago, I’ll see you soon. I can’t wait.