Tag Archives: new places

A Mini-Trip

I’m writing from a brown leather couch in the middle of America.

[Thanks to Southwest Airlines and my incredibly delayed flight back in February, I booked my current trip for a grand total of $99. Who says travel has to cost an arm and a leg? If you’re willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of future reward, it is totally doable.]

Haven’t taken a single picture yet, and that’s likely to remain unchanged…unless my friend takes a couple. I didn’t bring a camera (shame on me), but I did bring a stack of good books (Tim Keller’s Reason for God, Anne Sexton’s poetry [yes, still plugging away/reveling], and a novel called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake). I read on the plane ride, but there is too much to do here to really sit down and devote myself to a book.

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Here’s a late-addition from my walk around the museum.

So how am I writing right now, you ask? Because my friends are still sleeping. I woke up early to cars and trucks out the window, the sound of sidewalk sweeping, the smell of already-hot-sun-on-brick. It’s 86 degrees here in Chicago, and, while I am proud of my friends for their economy-savvy, I now realize the beauty of air conditioning. It’s good training, though, for when I get my own place; judging from my past budgeting choices, things like air conditioning won’t make the cut.

Little apartments are perhaps the best thing ever. I walked in and immediately felt at home. Wood floors, large kitchen, open windows lining the street. Books and books everywhere because M. was an English major, and we English majors feel the need to remind everyone by the stacks that line our walls. It’s fun to see how people grow up – I’ve know L. since 8th grade when we sang in choir together. Now, I get to see her new life, her adventure into adulthood. The brief trips she’s taken to come back home cannot show you a person’s new life, really.

[They love coffee here, so when I woke up I made a pot of dark roast, and breakfast consisted of a nice mug of that along with a Trader Joe’s wheat-free muffin (good? yes. thick? yes. tough? a little.).]

Today consists of a trip to the Bean. Don’t even know what this is, but everyone back home was like “See the bean,” and even here, my friends, the anti-tourists, claim that yes, it should be seen. Then a delicious solo-trip to the art museum while L. works at the theater for the afternoon. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that. This whole three-day excursion is smelling remarkably like Austria, and I can thank my experience there for allowing me to navigate this new city with less angst than I’ve ever traveled before.

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And proof of the trip to the Bean.

Back Home!

Back from a week of the midwest. How’d I do with my list?

On the Plane
  • Finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and start Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Let’s just say I finished The Year of Magical Thinking long before I got to the plane, and I didn’t have time to grab Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Did read Diane Keaton’s Then Again, which was pretty good. Could’ve used more pictures of Warren Beatty though…
  • Watch all the passengers
And make up stories about them…BIG CHECK
  • Write in my journal
Of course this happened, but it’s always harder for me to write when there is so much to look at and experience. What if I miss something?! The real writing comes later.
Oklahoma
  • Hang out!
We got lost on the way home from the airport (not so shocking to people who know us), and we talked the entire time. And didn’t really stop until the last hug at the Tulsa airport three days later. A lot happens in two years, but it’s amazing how you immediately fall back into the way things always were.
  • Eat sushi and barbecue
Yes, I consumed both sushi and barbecue while in OK. I didn’t even have to ask for them. Now that’s good hosting.
 St. Louis
  • Relax
Definitely. Read. Wrote. Ran dogs in the woods. Went to Barnes and Noble, drank coffee, and looked through books with beautiful houses. Talked a lot. (I’m pretty sure I left A. exhausted, both emotionally and verbally. He’s not used to my lifestyle.)
  • Check out a church
Went to church. A lot. Early service in chairs in a make-shift sanctuary while the real sanctuary is being renovated. Then on to Sunday School (and yes, people are interesting/weird/lovable wherever you go). Then to help out in children’s church. I have a new appreciation for people who work with children. The patience those helpers exhibited could only come from God. Then at 6:30 there was evening church. The evening sermon was thought-provoking, and on the way home we got burgers. A good ending.
  • Check out a museum

Um, St. Louis closes down on Mondays. No art museums were open! But my girlfriends and a husband and I rode the tram up to the arch and looked out over the city. While we waited to go up, we strolled through the Lewis and Clark museum, so I guess that can count. The tram was like a little capsule for five people. We only had four in our group, so some unsuspecting bald man had to squeeze in with us. And the three of us girls sure know how to be annoying when we’re happy. Poor guy.

And I come home, a little more broke than when I left. But who’s complaining? Too many good memories to care.

Packing My Bags

Four days and I will be on a plane to a place I’ve never been. Oklahoma may not be the trip to Italy I’d imagined taking this winter, but old friends wait for me and I don’t need more of an excuse to see a new part of the world. There’s something about planning to travel that I can’t get enough of; a few nights ago I felt overwhelmed and anxious about finding a job, about feeling useless, and as soon as I logged on to Amtrak.com and looked at the various routes I could take across the country, my anxiety level dropped to nonexistent. My blood pressure didn’t drop, though, cause whose doesn’t rise at the idea of a train trip?! I may be a dying breed, but then again, check out a little Bill Bryson…

The anticipation of travel has me floating through my days, unbelievably excited and unbelieving in God’s blessings. A whole week to see new things. A whole week to talk and laugh with people I love and who love me. A whole week to be a little bit of someone I’m not. You can recreate yourself every time you step foot in a new place, and that is maybe why I love it so much.

After a few days in Oklahoma, I’m flying up to St. Louis to stay with an old friend. I was worried at first: what do I tell him when he asks what I’m doing with my life? Do I admit that I still don’t know? Do I talk about the glories of retail? He’s not the kind of person to expect cookie-cutter people, but I didn’t want to present myself sadly or pityingly, even if I sometimes feel that way. Now, though, I have an answer. I got accepted into the TEFL program, starting in May. Oh the joy and relief of knowing the next step in life!

So, on to the midwest I go!

Some photos from my summer in Austria. Just too beautiful not to keep looking at! I wonder if the photos from this trip will be able to compare?!

evening sun on Salzburg

If you want to read more about my travels in Europe:

singinginsalzburg_catherine.blogspot.com