The bedroom windows of my apartment face my courtyard. The trees have begun to bloom, wafting in the perfume of Spring in Chicago.
Spring in Chicago is so far not so warm or sunny, but I have hope. I live 15-20 minutes from Michigan Lake and Foster Beach. I live inbetween Uptown and Andersonville, and am surrounded by Vietnamese restaurants on one side, and trendy boutiques, cafes and bars on the other.
I love my apartment. It’s filled with old furniture from my late Grandma Wilma, and other generations of her family. I have it decorated with old posters from Europe, and I finally have a place for my Ukranian sugar bowl and my giraffe bottle opener from the Massai Market in Nairobi, and my Polish French-press. My foreign belongings finally have a place.
Today is the first day I’ve really been able to relax since coming to Chicago, with the craziness of moving in and starting a pretty intense job. I have tried to take things slowly here, gradually get my life set up. And so far, so good. Mostly, I am just happy I survived this week, with the last-minute trip to Nebraska for Grandma Wilma’s funeral, writing and delivering her euology, and then after flying back Wednesday night, going to Rockford, IL, Thursday with the executive director of my organization for a grand opening ceremony, where I “worked the press” for the first time.
It’s been a good whirlwind. It feels so amazing to be working in communications again. I’ll still be starting grad school, but for the moment I’m enjoying learning the ins and outs of corporate communications. There are a lot of ins and outs. But I’ve published a few press releases and written talking points for the top woman, so things are definitely happening. Next week I’m planning to join the company softball team. They play once a week in Grant Park against other companies in Chicago. Though everything I’ve been doing feels terribly trendy after living in Nebraska and Bolivia for the last year and a half, for some reason the softball thing really takes the cake for me. Oh, that and that the corporate Disney office is secretly somewhere in my office building. (Ahhhh I can’t take it—I’m in the world again!!!)
It all feels very natural though, and very good. I think little by little I’ll figure out a routine, so that my evenings can be filled more with bike rides and less with laying in my bed immediately in exhaustion. Chicago is going to be beautiful this summer. The trees are already blooming, and I saw the beginning of flowers at the botanic gardens two weeks ago when John and Sophie took me. As I type this the wind is blowing and I am getting flower petals from the tree in the courtyard into my window on my bed.
I have been enjoying the similarities of living in this apartment to living abroad. Only half of my windows have screens, I don’t have a microwave or dishwasher, and my heater is a hilarious old steam heat thing, that makes horrendous noises whenever it comes on. It actually woke me up this morning, clanking around. I can’t actually control the amount of heat I get or when it turns on and off, other than just entirely turning it off or on, but it is easy enough to control the heat with keeping windows open. It does crack me up though, because even when I lived in Poland I had more control over the heat. Although, in Nairobi and South America there was no heat to be had inside anyway. (I’m thinking about Puno and the two epic nights I spent freezing my ass off on Lake Titicaca with six alpaca blankets piled on top of me. This was during the no-showering-for-4-days stretch of “backpacking in Peru and spending as little money as possible.”)
I LOVE how it feels to live here. My apartment is so aesthetically pleasing. I love my big windows and my little kitchen with Grandma’s old drop-leaf table and my basil plant in the window. I spend a lot of time in there, cooking vegetables and a few weeks ago, a huge dinner of pierogis and chocolate chip cookies.
I do feel like I spend a lot of time alone, and sometimes when I come home from work I don’t know what to do for the first 10 minutes or so. The best part about coming home from work or school or whatever is always talking to people that you love and relaxing. I utilize my phone a lot. But, it’s great to be able to do what I want when I want, it’s so wonderful to have freedom. I will eventually get more used to the alone time, because when I am used to it I do love it. It’s just all part of the process of moving and changing and growing, to know what to do with those first 10 minutes.
This weekend my friend Steve who I met in Bolivia is in town visiting. I have a little bit of Singani left that I brought from Bolivia and I think we’ll be toasting the reunion with a few Chuflies. It will be nice to see an old friend and talk about Cochabamba and Evo.
I also can’t say enough how wonderful it was this week, despite the circumstances of Grandma’s funeral, to see the family. Peter gets cuter every day (see video of him going bananas when I walked in the house Monday night) and Neve and the Murphy kids are always a blast. It was seeing the Murphy girls though—the girl cousins and aunts who mean so much to me, that really made the world feel right. I first came to Chicago with them, more than ten years ago. I still have the old black and white photo of Mary and I on the El from our first visit on my wall. I always knew it would be a good idea to move here, into this bustling, worldly, happening Midwestern city.
Everyone must visit!