I’m in Chicago…And All That Jazz

Greetings from Anna’s place in Chicago. More in the AM but I made it in one piece.

Currently typing this from O’Hare Airport in Chicago, where boarding is due to start in 7 minutes.

So here’s how my day went down.

6:30 AM – Wake up. Realize that I have so much to do before I can leave today, so plan to catch the 1 PM bus instead of the 11:30. Put the finishing touches on the 34 boxes I’ve packed (not 35, thanks to me randomly forgetting the number 20). Then, some food and stupid time-wasting on the Internet while I wait for the movers.

8:35 AM – Wonder where the movers are. Go downstairs with my first load of car stuff to see the movers just pulling up. No one is in the office so I tell them to just park the truck and start loading. There are 3 guys: Max, Nick, and Anthony. Very nice and young, unlike the old sweaty guys from Mini Moves who loaded me up in Houston. I take them upstairs and tell them what to do. Relatively painless move, owing to the fact that it’s early morning and no one is tying up the elevators. One of the final pieces of furniture is my night stand, and I tell Max, “here’s my one night stand, you dirty piece of furniture.” It takes him a minute but he gets it, then repeats it to his eye-rolling friends. He writes “one night stand” on the receipt for the next guy to see.

10:35 AM – Exactly 2 hours later, my apartment is devoid of 34 boxes, plus bed/couch/table/chairs/bookshelves and a few other things. I proceed to run my final errands before loading up the car and leaving. I return my Internet router to the desk at Steve Brown (ResTech has moved elsewhere and not told me; typical, glad I’m done with them). Head to the gym to pick up my green water bottle and get my pre-trip weight, 151.2 lbs. Yay.

12:00 PM – Leave gym, still lugging a suitcase of books. Realize I have no chance in hell of making the 1 PM bus, so I slow up, return my books leisurely, and stop at Walgreens for contact solution, Twizzlers (I deserve the sugar) and some sparkling water.

12:30 PM – Arrive back at the apartment and start loading up the car. Donate my frozen fish and leftover cleaning supplies to the building staff, and start cleaning and gathering trash/recycling like a madman, fueled by candy, sparkling water, and a bottle of Prairie Fume I have sitting in the fridge. Also discover a bottle of River Gold. Guess who’s getting drunk on the bus to Chicago?

1:00 PM – Borrow a cart from Georgeo, load it with stuff for the car, take it down the elevator and drag it up the stairs. Push it up the hill, starting to sweat. Arrange items in the car and return to the apartment. Do a few trash/recycling runs. Aim for catching the 2:30 bus.

2:00 PM – Finishing the cleaning, sans sweeping/mopping and realize I’m probably not going to make the 2:30 bus either with all the stuff left to go to the car. Sweating like crazy and pushing stuff towards the door, frantically gathering trash and recycling in one spot, car stuff in another, and stuff for the trip in another.

2:30 PM – Another cartful of stuff up the stairs, up the hill, and to the car. Perspiration from my eyelashes is dripping in my eyes and I can barely see. My dark green shirt is now black with sweat. My car is now full of stuff from linens to broom (given up on a final sweep) to alcohol. Place my Tanach on top for good luck in warding off potential looters.

3:00 PM – Final trash/recycling run. Return my printer table to the dumpster outside the sorority house, from whence it came. Bring empty boxes and luggage down the stairs, turn in my keys, and say goodbye to Alicia and Chad. Too sweaty for a goodbye hug. It’s been a good year with them. Load up with suitcase, backpack, iPad, and sundries and gear myself up for my last trudge up the cursed Carroll Street incline.

3:12 PM – Top of the hill. The worst is over. I am free, and the next bus to Chicago (also the final bus of the day) is at 4:30. *Update: I’m on the plane. Now back to the story.” No real rush; I head to Espresso Royale for a slice of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and the best iced vanilla latte ever.

4:00 PM – Pop over to the post office to mail some stuff, then onto the bus stop.

4:30 PM (approx.) – Bus leaves for Chicago. I update Dad and Anna on the plans, and now that I’m coming in at night instead of afternoon, Anna can pick me up from downtown Chicago rather than have me take the L to her place in Evanston, where we will have pizza and wine. I remember my River Gold and offer it for dinner, so I guess I won’t show up smashed. I chat it up with Kai, an 18-year-old intern from Tokyo who’s heading to Janesville, where I learn I will have to change buses for Chicago as this bus is heading for the airport, rather than downtown. This bus is almost empty and the connecting bus from Janesville to Chicago is even emptier. It’s a double decker and I spread myself out over the back row. I start The Diving Bell and Butterfly, a book I have promised to a bookcrosser over in Portugal. We stop in South Beloit and Rockford, shortly after which I finish the book, short and sweet, and proceed to pack it. Only a bookcrosser would travel with packaging, tape, and a Sharpie.

8:15 PM – It’s still light, and we arrive in Chicago fifteen minutes early. Anna is still in Evanston and estimates it’ll be 30 minutes before she arrives, so I head into the station to try to find an outlet because my phone is at 15%. I do so. The train station is not very busy, except for the occasional commuter zooming past at lightning speed. A slight break for me, sitting on the cold marble floor.

8:45 PM – Anna arrives at the station and picks me up, and we catch up on life as she drives back to Evanston. It’s been 2-3 years since we’ve seen each other, and last time, Anna was the one traveling through; I picked her up at Bush Airport in Houston, drove her to lunch, and then took her down to Meyerland where she spent Shabbat with Abbie. For all that WUJS didn’t give me, it gave me (well, all of us) a worldwide network of friends, united through their (and Israel’s) shtuyot.

We get back to Anna’s lovely home, I meet her adorable cats, and soon I meet her boyfriend Josh, who comes bearing Chicago-style deep dish pizza. According to Anna, my moving efforts earn me “ALLTHECARBS” so I enjoy it guilt-free, along with Lillet, River Gold, and birthday cake Oreos, the kind that have tempted me from the shelves at Metcalfes and Walgreens for ages. Josh is a wonderful guy and he and Anna make a cute couple. He looks a lot like Don from dance class, boyfriend of my instructor, also named Anna. Ironic!

Catching up over dinner is so much fun. I dredge up the WUJS memories and we relive the good, the bad, and the weird, in complete disbelief that it’s been FIVE YEARS since that happened and we’re all legit grown-ups now. Anna gives me updates on Abbie, busker-turned-supermom who lived in Houston when I did but never did our paths cross; now she’s in Ohio. One of Anna’s roommates, Priscilla (also a Houstonian, who I saw exactly once even though she lived across the street from me) is living in Paris with her boyfriend, and her other roommate, Sarah, is getting married in Los Angeles pretty soon; Anna will attend as a bridesmaid. She didn’t update me on their other roommate, Shira, but I assume she’s doing okay. Anna has also stayed close with Ross, and went to his wedding on the East Coast. I’ve managed to stay close with Rael, who stayed in Israel, married her boyfriend, and is teaching kindergarten, and I occasionally hear from Adina, who also stayed in Israel. Anna has also hosted Dayna, who I hear from now and then. Between us, we remember everyone’s names. Anna has such a vibrant personality and is so likeable; it’s easy to see how she was friends with everyone. I was, too, but I have no idea why.

11:30 PM – Anna and Josh have to work in the morning, so it’s bedtime. I fall asleep at about midnight. Given that I slept about three hours the night before, which now seems like ages ago, I sleep like the peaceful dead.

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