On Saturday, we stopped for lunch in New Orleans and made Birmingham by 7:30, right on time. It was a quiet drive which started a bit late, but since we'd made our schedule up, that wasn't a big deal at all, really.
I think it is a testament to the some incredible change in me that being late threw me not a bit.
The diner in New Orleans was amazing; a white marble countertop where everybody sat, no seat left empty; the waiters and cooks were the same, and enjoyed messing with us. "Who dat?" they asked. So we pep-rally competed to see which side of the diner was louder. One guy named all the reindeer. I found perfect bacon. The streets were canopied and there was a house decorated in pink fluffy boas. Somehow, this was obviously Christmas decor. Funny how structural cues, like something being obviously in the shape of a wreath or garland, can tell us what it is supposed to be. Knid of lkie slipleng wrdos wtih olny the frsit and lsat lteerts in the rghit pacle. You could totally read that, kind of, couldn't you?
Birmingham is 3 for 3 on amazing, awe-inspiring, evidence-that-there-is-a-God style sunsets.
And so, yesterday, by way of Louisville, I made it to Chicago. My nephew is adorable, by the way, and my brother and sister-in-law are as sweet and kind as ever. (Family is the best.)
Here I am, Chicago. Last night, I parked on a street which miraculously escaped the private electric parking meters, I froze my ass off (literally -- I couldn't feel it) I drank the fanciest of cocktails at the Violet Hour -- and ran into a friend I haven't seen in years -- before eating quesadillas (cheese somethings, I translated) and hitting the sack on a couch. I've missed waking up in the cold; I can actually appreciate my blankets that way. I've role reversed with an old friend, which was a lovely thing to laugh about.
Vespucci has been introduced to my old street, I've eaten a good Chicago breakfast and drank my cup of Intelligentsia, and it's all so familiar I can feel it in my toes. Well, when I get the feeling back in my toes. Or maybe the lack of feeling in my toes is the familiar part.
When I was parking on Broadway, I offered to move my car so that the guy behind me would have more room (he pulled in right after me). So he bought me an hour of parking. I love, love, love the people in this city.
I walked past the Erie Paint Company and I was home. Time changed for a minute, and I was walking to work, remembering where the icy patches are. It couldn't have been more than a second, but I was somewhere else, on my way to something else, with a different bounce in the balls of my feet and a different kind of peace in my heart -- the peace that comes, perhaps, from years of friends in arm's reach. I breathe differently here. I like it.
I am so happy I lived here!