Sunday, July 27, 2014

What is it with Chicago?

Somehow - it doesn't make sense - four different friends of mine are visiting Chicago right now. They are posting photos on Facebook and blogging and texting. I, on the other hand, am home in super-hot Las Vegas daydreaming about ... well ... Chicago. [Editor's Note: Why Chicago? I don't know. I don't really have a thing for Chicago, but I couldn't help but notice when all these different people who don't even know each other were heading off to visit there at the same time. In order to raise my jealousy to all-time heights, everyone I know would suddenly have to be vacationing in Denver. Or Portland. But Chicago's nothing to spit at and my jealousy isn't ultra-finicky.]

This morning I was feeling HIGHLY sorry for myself and if you can drive a car in a mopey fashion, I was doing so on the way to Mass. In my head, I sounded like Eeyore the sad donkey from Winnie the Pooh: "Everyone else is in Chicago. I'm stuck at home. Kevin's away at scout camp but I'm here hanging out with the dishwasher and three-fourths of our children."

I tried to have a mature little talk with myself. The top lecture headlines going through my mind were predictable, I'm sure you've heard many of them yourself:
  1. Don't Compare Yourself to Others
  2. God Has a Plan for You Right Where You Are
  3. Be Grateful!
  4. Chicago Sucks! Who Wants to Go to Chicago Anyway?
  5. Life is Good! You Have Nothing to Complain About!
The lectures weren't super-effective, but listen to what happened in the afternoon: A friend texted and asked if she and her kids could come swimming. (Heck yeah!) I invited another friend and her family to join in. (They came!) My exceptionally fantastic next-door neighbors contributed to the joy by sharing with me a helping of the prawns they made for dinner. (Delicioso!)

Almost everyone was in the pool later when heavy gray clouds got more ominous-looking and thunder and lightning boomed and lit up the sky enough that some of the kids were starting to freak out. (One full-grown adult may have contributed to this after a particularly close lightning strike by using the words "everyone could die.") Our group of friends, six adults and eleven children strong by this point, moved inside. The party went on for another couple hours. Kids ran wild in damp bathing suits, adults gathered around the table talking and laughing. Outside, the rain poured. Not once did I think about Chicago. Not even once.

I have issues, it's true. I need to work on my perspective, and truth be told I probably do need a vacation. But more valuable than a vacation is a great group of friends. Throw in a desert thunderstorm, a neighbor's good cooking, a tasty beer, laughter, and super-happy kids and Chicago isn't necessary anymore.

*Photo credit - AA, PVdR, KE - thanks to good friends who responded to my call for photos 
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