With the current climate as it is I sometimes wonder why I made the decision that I did. Why did I return to the United States? Why did I come back to a place that has a real possibility of being run by a giant period clot with bad hair? This place that may become the real life version of Margaret Atwood’s book, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. (Read it if you haven’t and then relate it to today’s world. And it will freak your shit out.) I came back. And at times I ask myself if that was the right move.
In some ways I feel very much like a failure for returning. When that seemed to have become my role. People knew me as the ‘traveler’. The adventurer. Right when I had come back and had made the decision to stay I ran into someone I knew. She asked me where I was going next and I told her that I was planning on staying in the US for a little while and I was moving to Chicago. And her face fell. “Oh”, was her reply. She told me that she had enjoyed living vicariously through me and would miss my adventures. And for some reason her disapproval, this person who I was friendly with but by no means close, her reaction to my news really made me feel bad. Like I was not worthy of anything else. Like my being an ‘adventurer’ was my only redeeming quality. Like I had nothing else to offer.
So I didn’t advertise the news. People I felt close with I told, but for the most part I didn’t shout it to the world. Which was stupid. Why the fuck not? It’s still a goddamn adventure. It’s still a move this ‘disapproving’ person wasn’t making. I was moving to a new city and picking up a new adventure. Which are ballsy fucking moves, let me tell you. If you’ve ever picked yourself up and moved yourself, alone, to a new place, with no built in support system, then you’ve got to have a decent set of ovaries on you. But I allowed this meaningless interaction to fuck with my head. And that is on me, not this other person.
And what a time to be in America! Good gravy. Donald Trump became a ‘political’ entity while I was outside of the country. It never quite seemed real to me because I was gone. I was removed from the fuckery. And now I’m face to face with the fuckery. Confronted with the fuckery. And fuck that fuckery. Hearing him spout about how terrible we have it here in the US. How our airports are like those of a third world country. Fuck. That. I’ve been in many an airport in the third world. And we’re fine. Don’t worry America, your shit is ok. But if this hate mongering, bigoted fucktard somehow worms his way into a position of power we could very well lose our shit. But enough of this talk. This is not a political post. We’re all sick of the ridiculousness that this election has become. Let us move on with our lives.
So instead I’ll say, what a time to be in Chicago! As most everyone in these states currently divided knows, the Chicago Cubs just won the World Series. After a long ass time of not winning. Of being the underdog. They are now champions. And my gawd has that feeling permeated the city. You can feel it in the air. Through all 7 games. You could feel it. The excitement. The joy. The feeling that something special was happening. And I won’t pretend I’ve been a Cubs fan all these years. I claim allegiance to no sports team. I have friends who are hardcore fans of those Cubbies. One of them actually tattooed the signature of a player on her body. Her love runs deep. I was merely a bystander who happened to be in the right place at the right time to get to experience this wonderfulness. And I will forever be grateful to this team and this city for letting me experience that wonderfulness. Because it’s been a nice reminder of the wonderful place this country can be. That this is a good place. Filled with good people.
The neighborhood in which I moved in Chicago is known (according to the internet and my neighbors) for being one of the ‘most diverse’ neighborhood in the city. And this is not a super integrated place. I’ve only been in Chicago a short time, so I may be speaking prematurely, but this city is not a place where people of all different races and creeds live side by side harmoniously. It ain’t the Jim Crow south by any means, but it surely ain’t a diverse rainbow of love. But it seems to be a place that is acutely aware of this and is taking great pains to change it.
Yet this little pocket that I now find myself living is full of people from all over the world. Dozens of countries are represented in this small plot of land. I leave my apartment and I immediately hear languages that are not English. I immediately smell spices that are unfamiliar. I see people wearing traditional clothes. And I find that fucking fabulous.
To me, this is part of the reason I came back. This is the America that I love and gush about when I’m away. About a block away from my apartment there’s a street that encompasses the glorious melting pot this nation aspires to be. At the start of the street are Mexican grocery stores. Taquerias and Paleterias selling tamales and horchata. A little further north there are west African markets and hair salons. Beyond that you move into the Pakistani district, which then bleeds into the Indian area. A sari shop on every corner. And I am not exaggerating. I lived in a country where a decent amount of the population wear saris and still I’ve never seen so many sari shops! And then we make our way to the Middle Eastern contingent. Halal meat shops are everywhere. Arabic writing on almost every storefront. On this same street you’ll find the Croatian cultural center. A Georgian bakery which houses delectable Georgian smells (and I don’t mean the home of Atlanta.) And then you move into the Jewish neighborhood. Yeshiva students hurriedly make their way to the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts (yup, I’m not making this up) to fuel up before their Talmud studies resume.
All of these groups living together. And there are scuffles, most definitely. But the violence that occurs in this area is minimal compared with the rest of the city. I’ve come to love taking the bus in my neighborhood because you can see firsthand the diversity of the area. Women with hijabs. Men with yarmulkes. Spanish Banda music playing too loudly from a young man’s headphones. An African couple speaking French with one another. Two old Russian men surveying the people on the bus, occasionally commenting on life. The bus filled with people of various shades of human. Speaking different languages, originating in different places. Yet we all sit quietly. Respecting the others right to exist. To go wherever we’re going, to do whatever we’ll be doing when we get there. Whether that be a first generation college student, an immigrant trying to make a better life, or a confused chubby white woman with glasses trying to figure out what the hell she’s doing with her life. All the hombres bueno, none of the women nasty and everyone attempting to live as happy Americans.
These bus rides help remind me that I’m exactly where I should be. No matter where in the world I may be, I will always be a traveler. I will always be an adventurer. And there is nothing ‘less’ about adventuring in your own backyard. I’ve been to more countries outside this nation than states within it. And that’s a shame. A shame that will be rectified. This is a great country. As are all the other countries in which I’ve lived and adventured in. As are all the other countries in which I will someday live and adventure in.