I had a lot of anxiety about this trip. I’ve never been to Chicago. I’ve never really been to a big city like this. Let alone the fact that I was going to be on my own for a large part of it while the husband is in a conference. We rarely traveled as a kid. I remember at one point we went to the Mall of America and my mom freaking out while my dad was driving as we drove through Chicago because my mom doesn’t deal well with traffic or big cities. So I suppose I had a lot of that anxiety transferred over to me. It didn’t help that, when my parents found out about this trip, I was told “Chicago isn’t a good place to be right now” – even at 30 years old my parents think I shouldn’t be off doing something on my own without… a man, I guess.
Anyway. I’ve been on my own both Wednesday and now today. I’ll be mostly on my own again tomorrow, though I get to travel the red line north to see my old high school friend. I’m happy to report that I haven’t yet been mugged, attacked, stolen from, etc. I’ve seen some things, and I’ve done some shopping. I got coffee at a shop on Michigan Avenue and sat on the patio and knit and watched the world go by. I sat this morning and knit at the Daley Plaza while watching people shop the local farmer’s market. I’ve been mostly unbothered by anyone. I feel like I’m just another Chicagoan, even though I’m not. Which is, really, kind of a big deal considering I’m a woman from a smallish town who rarely travels.
This trip, I’ve discovered, has been more than a vacation. Sure, it’s about seeing and experiencing new things, but it’s really been a lot more than that for me. It’s been a learning experience. I’m re-learning how to be on my own, something I haven’t had to be for many years. I used to be incredibly independent, but at some point – probably after years of being married – I lost that ability.
There’s also something about being away from all your things. I packed for the week with essentials: some clothes, toiletries, and knitting. The apartment we’re renting is very minimalist. The whole thing has me rethinking my entire life – just how much stuff do I need? How many clothes, how many shoes, how many decorative things, how many cooking utensils, etc do I really even need? I’ve constantly dreamed of being more of a minimalist and I feel like this week has given me the chance to live it more than I’ve had a chance to before. Do I really need all the things that I own? How often do I use it? Is it really worth spending the time to clean it, clean around it, organize it, etc? And how much of that time is being taken away from my time interacting with my environment – being out in the world rather than hiding at home from it?
Beyond seeing and doing new things, this trip has me completely re-evaluating my entire life.