Hello friends! I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these days, which is why I haven’t had a chance to write. Please forgive. I was in Florida for seven days with my husband and my parents, who rented a place in Delray Beach for the winter, then Chicago for a conference and trip down memory lane, and then Atlanta for business.
It’s been an interesting trichotomy of experiences, starting with…
There, my husband and I enjoyed a seven-day adventure with my parents—now officially “snowbirds” that fly South for the winter with friends from their over-55 community here in Bucks County. With the social lives of teenagers and looking in their mid-50s at best (they’re in their 70s—gosh, I hope those genes pass down), they only show their age in their hearing and their impatience.
It was a pleasant enough vacation, despite my mother’s noticeably growing anxiety over the small stuff, the insistent lack of sunshine, and an iPhone that refused to hold to charge for more than an hour.
(If you can’t already imagine, having a lifeless smart phone can put a serious dent in any life experience—especially when you consider how utterly dependent we are on it. After all, almost everything in life [vacation or otherwise] nowadays requires either a) instant access to information [e.g., how do I find out what time it is in New Delhi?] b) the ability to video an interesting exchange that’s none of your business [don’t ask] or photograph a cute haircut on a stranger, or c) display an interesting photo, function, or mobile app to fill in any awkward silence [e.g., look how that little cartoon cat spins!]. It’s the stuff that replaces the eventual and perhaps inevitable disintegration of conversation that’s bound to happen when you spend day and night with the same people for several days in a row [regardless of who they are]. BUT not to sound cynical…Hugs to all!)
Fortunately, in between trips to the Apple and Verizon stores (not on my vacation to-do list, by the way) and rain, there were tennis courts and shopping malls and flea markets and long walks down Atlantic Avenue—and friends from years back to be seen in various directions. Like Stacy in Golden Beach, who I hadn’t seen in more than three years. (And who we loved being with despite her adorable three-year-old Elle spewing several rounds of vomit during our meal at Bella Something on a busy Saturday night – to which my husband said, “at least it wasn’t projectile” and to which she did at least warn us by proclaiming it was “too loud in here” and then holding her ears as if were readying to skin them with a butter knife and to which the bus boy who had to clean the mess almost certainly cursed at us even though WE didn’t do anything. Hey Stac!)
And sweet Debbie in Orlando—who we hadn’t seen since our wedding six years ago —and who had us laughing from the moment we stepped into her warm house, and who still knows absolutely everybody everywhere (at the Starbucks, the grocery story, the gas station) like she did some 20-plus years ago when we both lived in Chicago. Hey Deb!
What I took away from these seven days of vacation was this: Good friends (along with a loving family, spandex, anytime access to quality ice cream, and realistic expectations) really do mean everything.
With only three days to recover from my Florida vacation (think laundry and repacking, which I loathe), I was off to my next destination—my beloved second city of Chicago for a conference and a few days with friends. You might like to know that if Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, I left mine at the intersection of Ainslie and Western on the North Side of Chicago. Here’s why.
So I’m in Chicago, staying in my old hood with my friend Marilyn (also newly thin as a result of the HCG diet—hey skinny!), taking the El train to the Merchandise Mart like I used to when I lived just two streets over from hers’ on Carmen. Then walking the eight or so blocks along the river to my final destination—this time, instead of my job at Gatorade, to the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, where my conference on internal communications and social media was being held.
It’s amazing how, after seven short years away, I remember and forget everything. I remember how much I loved walking along the river in the early morning and forget which direction to head in once I got off the train. I remember how I was once a 20-something who rode the El train to work each morning (like most of my fellow passengers), and lost in my memories, momentarily forget that I am now almost 50. And that it was their turn now—to be young and hopeful. I remember how much I loved taking the train the morning (when I was alert and could get a seat) and forget how I hated taking it at night (when I was tired and we were crammed into the cars like a can of chopped artichokes).
I remember how the shops and restaurants in Lincoln Square and Andersonville, near my old digs, were so enticing—and I forget how much I miss my now-gone beloved dog Sophie, until a wave of grief washes over me crossing the intersection of Ainslie and Western on the way back to Marilyn’s—and then I remember. When I get to her condo and she asks me how the day was, I cry hard and suddenly.
I could fill the length of a novel with what I remember and what I forget about my whole other life there—but I won’t do that here. Instead, I’ll just say that the conference was interesting.
This one will be brief. I was on a 7 a.m. flight from O’Hare to Atlanta in a suit and heels for a one o’clock client meeting. It was unusually hot in Chicago (think 85 degrees) and typically hot in Atlanta (think 85 degrees) and unpleasantly hot on the plane (think 85 degrees) and surprisingly hot in the airport (think 85 degrees, although maybe it’s because I was rushing), where I took two trams (yes trams) to meet my work colleagues at the rental car building.
The three-hour meeting went as expected, after which we head straight to the airport. I raced into the restroom to change into my stretch pants and flip flops (inspired by the new blisters forming on my big toes and since I could do that, since I was schlepping my luggage from four days in Chicago and needed to enjoy the perks…) and met my colleagues at Houlihans for an Asian Chop Chop Salad before heading through security to hurry up and wait to get on the (fortunately, not hot) plane.
I made it home by midnight.
And this, my friends, is the glamorous life of a modern-century middle-aged career woman (yes, I am still describing myself as middle aged, LET ME HAVE IT). And why I haven’t been able to post in a while. Suffice to say, I’m back now and, whether you like it or not, you’ll see more of me.
In the meantime, I would love to know how your travels are going. Where have you been lately? Has it been hot or cold? Did it evoke tears or laughter? Was it sunny or gray? And, as importantly, did your smart phone work?
Do tell. And until next time!!