Well, as usual, my emotional logic lost out. I was starting to feel all uptight and antsy because I was homesick. I started complaining to myself and to Jeff that life was not interesting enough. I spent too much time at home. I'm not doing anything here that I couldn't do in Chicago - with my friends and family nearby. (Did you catch that? That was the give-away that I'm just crazy-talking. This might be coincidental, but Jeff's parents were just here to visit from Glen Ellyn.) I mean, working retail, going to church and setting up an apartment: what could be more mundane than that? There is nothing distinctly Northwestern about that. Plant a couple of fir trees and hang a couple of Native American totems randomly in Lombard and we're set. They don't even have a funny accent here.
OK, cut it out with the sarcastic tone. I'm stupid. All of the previous statements are ridiculous and I'm fully aware of that. But a few days ago I wasn't. So, I'm sharing the progression of thoughts with you.
Number one: of course it feels like I'm just doing what I've always done with no new experiences. I'm doing what I've always done. But, the part that I forget is that now I'm doing them by myself, which I haven't ever done before. For instance, I'm cooking for myself. Yes, some meals are macaroni and cheese but tonight I made soup. I meant to make navy bean soup, which is my favorite but was missing some vital elements so ended up with this funky Italian tomato pinto bean soup. MMMmmmm. The other day I made my very first apple pie with local apples picked from someone’s backyard. I used Grandma’s recipe but put lard back in where she has switched to Crisco. Also, mmmmm. Not bad for a girl who lost all of the cooking supplies in the divorce. But, I'm not totally alone. Jeff taught me how to light my stove so that it actually created warmth and not just smoke. He also reassures me that the noise my car is making is just fine and that I'll be able to fill the tires with air by myself just fine. When I feed him some of the soup tomorrow, he'll tell me it's good, regardless of the truth. He ate most of the pie. He takes me to do things that are distinctly non-Chicago, which leads me to point two.
Number two: I AM doing things that I couldn't do in Chicago. Why my very-smart brain thinks otherwise is more than my fancy degree in English can tell me. Yesterday, I went kayaking and we must have ended up in the ocean cafeteria. Bonaparte gulls were swirling and diving and when they dove a seal head would come out of the water and they would all fight. After awhile, four - count them - four eagles joined the swirling but they were much bigger. While this was going on, I happened to look down into the water on the other side of my boat and a baby seal came up from under me from way down deep, looking at me the whole time, to play with the eddies that my paddle was making. He just touched the top of the water with his nose and darted away. He was closer than any animal at the Shedd aquarium could ever be. After the kayak trip in the blustery weather was outdoor, swimsuit-optional hot tub and sauna with a gorgeous view of the ocean. It is a phenomenal experience to sit mostly bare in the cold fall wind off the ocean when your body temperature is enough to keep you warm. Not a lot of places to be naked outside in Chicago. (Grandma, forget you read that.) On a different note, I got paid 8 bucks plus labor for my Illinois license plates by a local artist. Actually, he handed me a ten-dollar bill and asked for change. He had promised me lunch at a local place, Chimayo's. I guess $8 was the equivalent. Finally, I sat watching a rerun of The West Wing that I had never seen before, eating slices of nectarines that I had bought a month ago in bulk at a fruit stand off the highway on the mainland. When they were ripe, I sliced them all up all by myself and loaded them into the dehydrator so they would keep. Candy was not sweeter than those round orange and red chewy fruits that I had preserved completed on my own. Although I’m not going on hikes and campouts and being invited to big hippie blow-out parties, I guess that the time that I’ve gained from working retail instead of a job that requires passion and the emotional energy that I can keep for myself instead of feeding it into kids is spent on these small new encounters. And that’s exactly right for a month and a half. Jeez.