Current date: January 21, 2003 12:30p.m. (Chicago)

Subject: Back home, to Chicago, hanging out with Bridge

January 20, 2003 (con't)
Well, I have been here at home for a full day is DAMN cold up here!! I arrived in Bloomington yesterday at 5. We headed home for nice home cooked beans and rice..mmmmm. I was pretty beat from the past week of going so hardcore so I checked e-mail (gotta enjoy these last couple weeks of being able to do that for free) and crashed on the couch and watched "Rosewood". It was a pretty good flick. Then I decided to get off my ass and head out to Minonk to see Jeff.

I was in BAD need of a haircut and a shower so I did that first. I only mention it because something interesting hit me as I was getting all my shower stuff ready...I am already living out of a backpack...and that is NOT going to change for a LOOOOOOONG time. I guess it hadn't dawned on my that in way...I have already started my travels. Actually, when I was in Atlanta yesterday for my layover, I met this girl who was flying back to Bloomington to pick up the last of her belongings...she was moving to Hilton Head, SC. Somewhere during our conversation she asked me where I live now...and suddenly I realized...NOWHERE!! Man, that is a bit scary.

Anyway, it was this cute girl named Nicole who was, in a way, on her own journey of some sort. She grew up in central IL like I did and was just tired of being in she decided to pack her bags and move somewhere plan...just go because she felt she needed to. Sounds like someone I know:) Anyway, she commented quite a bit how people who grow up around here tend to stay around here and how that wasn't enough for her. She said that most of her friends that she was nuts to want to leave and how she felt a bit alone. It made me appreciate the support I got from all you folks even more than I already do. I felt bad for her...but I applaud her ability to go against the grain. Very admirable.

Anyway, last night I went out to Minonk to hang with Jeff and Jen

(background: Jeff and I have been very close amigos since 7th grade...he is probably one of the sharpest guys I know and a wonderful friend. Jen is his girlfriend of the past 3 years who is a quite a catch...she certainly gets my seal of approval for the big M...this is very important between close male friends and a really good litmus test for those out there who are wondering...if your closest friends don't seem to like the girl you're dating...GET RID OF HER...they probably see something in her that you are too blinded by love to spot. Having close friends around is like having angels watching over you at all times...yet I digress)

Jeff, Jen and I went over to this little bar in Minonk...FYI Minonk is a town of a couple thousand people (if that) so when I say little bar...I mean it. We hung out and played darts and it was a GREAT night. We went back to Jeff's for a bit, but then I had to head back home b/c we were getting up early to go to Chicago...sort of a trip within a trip before my trip. Sort of funny if you think about it that way.

January 21, 2003
Woke up painfully early on my parents wasn't the best sleep I've gotten in my life by any means. I thought to myself...this is like the Hilton compared to where I will be staying over the next several months so I better get used to it. No problem. Packed some stuff and we hit the road. I was pumped because I was going to stay over night in Chicago with my friend Bridget. Bridge and I have been great friends since my sophomore year at ND. Kermit the frog brought us together:) I'll let that be an inside joke for now.

We got here and my Dad had a few things to do. I sat at lunch and typed for awhile...I love having this pocket PC. I can write whenever/wherever I want. Very nice.

Anyway, I also needed to go downtown to find the Chicago Youth Hostelling organization office so I could pick up a new hostel card for the trip. While I was there I had the realization that soon, I would be spending A LOT of my time in hostels and it was somehow funny to me that I was seeking the help of one when I haven't even left the country yet. I actually needed to use the internet in there b/c I needed to get Patricia's (girl from Spain I dated in college) number from an e-mail she had sent is her birthday so I need to call her to remind her that she will be turning 27 a full 6 1/2 months before I do:) I called her and it was good to talk to her.

After that, I went to meet up with Bridge where she works. The place is really's a boys and girls club. I met her boss Juan, who seemed cool and I promised that upon my return to the states that I would stop in and talk to the kids a bit and tell them the tales of my travels. I never want to miss a chance to tell my stories.

We headed up to the Northside from there to meet up with Bridge's boyfriend, Tim...who is a cool guy. We grabbed some grub at a pub called McGee's...I basically did the talking for most of the time, telling about my plans for traveling. It was cool. Then Bridge and I went to Evanston, IL where she had some stuff to do. I used the time to hit the Barnes and Noble and I picked up a book called "Catch-22". The title seemed interesting enough to me and I was immediately pondering whether the commonly used phrase came as a result of the book or vice-versa. I guess I'll find out soon.

I also sat and read a bit of "The Catcher in the Rye". I read it back in highschool and I have been wanting to take the chance to read it again. I also spent some time flipping through some travel books which always keep my excitement up. I seriously think I could live in a bookstore.

After the Barnes and Noble, Bridge and I hit this bar called "Bar Louie" in Evanston. It reminded me of the bars in Houston. It was a cool atmosphere. We chatted for awhile and finally it was time to head back to her house in Lombard...this was NO short drive. It was close to an hour...and I was dying the whole way. I had been going on virtually no sleep for full week so a long drive at 11:00 p.m. was the last thing I needed. I only bring up the drive b/c it was interesting that we drove for about 25 min. Before we even got on the freeway...a phenomenon that would never occur in Houston b/c the freeway system is so good. I realized how dependent I had become on being able to easiy access the freeway to get around the city.

We got back to Bridge's house and chatted with her parents and brother for awhile. It was cool. She has such a GREAT family and I really like them all. Finally crashed around 1:00.



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