Chicago, here I come!

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This week I will spend a few days in Chicago visiting my son. It will be a pleasant change of pace. New scenery for running, no hills, no feeding the dogs twice a day, no screaming at Dylan to slow down or for Dudley to please quit digging, no ringing the bell on the front porch to call everyone down off the mountain….for the umpteenth time. Mr. Boggs and Dakota are the sweetest of the bunch, but even a break from them is high on the wish list.

I pulled out the running bag I keep stashed in the pantry drawer and dumped its contents on the counter to be sure I wouldn’t lug around more than was necessary. Since the running bag has a KLM tag on the outside, my guess is It originated after a lovely first-class trip across the world somewhere – long, long ago. It has held my running necessities for as long as I can remember. Among the clutter:

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an iPod charger, earphones, the iPod, Garmin Forerunner (a birthday present last year), contact lens case, 8 safety pins, a pencil, a key (I think this is the key to our house in Ecuador), a key ring – the key not attached for some reason, my husband’s good-luck jump wings I wear for every race, 8 dimes, two nickels, one penny, one quarter and one gold dollar coin (again from Ecuador all of which were on call in the pocket of my running shorts in case I needed to buy a thirty cent bottle of water on the run), the athletico emergency kit (no doubt from a race packet somewhere back and never used so far), two road ID bracelets – one in English, one in Spanish, the Garmin charger, a pencil sharpener, one ibuprofen (at least 5 years old since that’s about the last time I remember taking ibuprofen), and a miniature watermelon lip balm.

The zipper closes it all up nice and tight and although there’s clearly some extra equipment, everything went back in the bag for the trip.

Now I sit at the airport waiting on the flight. It brings back memories of a life much more chaotic than the one I have now. The required plastic bag with duplicates of all my toiletries waited in the luggage at all times, ready for a last-minute change of direction. I had learned to pack everything for a week in one carry-on bag – I wouldn’t go if the bag had to be checked. This morning, I turned the bathroom upside down looking for travel size toiletries and at the last-minute took the every day tooth-brush right out of the drawer and smooshed it into the bag.

In Chicago, I took the Orange line into the city as I had done for the years and years that we lived here. This time I jumped off just past Roosevelt and found my son waiting on the platform to see me. He grabbed my bag and down the stairs we went and back up the other side to catch the Brown line.

Two stops on the bus – it took me two tries to get the CTA transit card in my hand facing the right direction – and finally we’re in Lincoln Square for dinner. I feasted on pheasant sausage flatbread and a cup of orzo soup with a glass of red wine. It was divine.

My son’s roommate is his best friend and back at the apartment we talked and talked for hours. The subject of a zombie invasion came up a few times and finally I left them to work out the details of our defense strategy and went to bed.

Lying there listening to the hum of the city, I thought to myself how far from home this is. I will be glad to get back to those crazy dogs and my husband (I miss them already) but for the next few days, the girl has been taken out of the mountains and dropped right in the middle of the city. Everyone fend for yourselves.

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