Being reminded of community

A few blog posts ago, I wrapped up my summer in Chicago and headed down to Morton, IL. But guess where I am right now?

Yep, Chicago. Actually, I am in Uptown right now sitting at an old Radical Journey haunt - Dollop - and really loving the cool fall-ish weather, the beautiful sunshine, and this most delicious iced mocha that I am trying to drink as slow as possible since it is a) so good I never want it to be over and b) I will be here for a few hours, which feels sad only when my coffee cup is empty.

So what am I doing back here? Well, earlier in the month I found out that Austin had her first weekend group coming the following weekend after the summer staff finished and headed back to their various lives. I couldn't believe this - Austin, who seriously had to work 24/7 all summer long barely had a break before the first weekend group came - a group who she'd have to take care of all by herself. yikes. That did not sound like fun.

So since I am unemployed and still in the same state, I offered to come back. And then so did Halo. and then so did Alissa. Suddenly, this weekend felt like a DOOR girl party reunion. I was pretty excited.

Well, honestly, I felt very strange when I was driving back into the city. Even though I had only been down in Morton for less then a week, I suddenly "lost" all my confident Chicago driving skills as I drove back up on Friday - praying a double trailer Fedex truck would not kill me as it went 10 over and kept trying to pass/murder me. ugh. I did not miss this at all.

Actually, the traffic is not what made me feel strange. Obviously. It had more to do with the fact that the summer was over and on some level I had closed the "chapter" on DOOR. but then, here I was yet again. weird.

All that "weirdness" though quickly melted away when I got to the church and headed out in the DOOR van to get groceries with Austin. Suddenly traffic didn't seem so bad (even though we definitely got stuck in it for awhile), because the company was wonderful. That moment was when I knew for sure that I had made the right decision in coming back.

Being the cook, my duties were over after breakfast on Saturday morning. So I spent the rest of the day doing what I love best in this city - eating.

Austin took me out for breakfast (well, actually technically second breakfast since I had eaten some cereal at the church. But this made it even better since I love second breakfast. love love love it). We went to Ruby's (or Edna's - which was the name, but changed once a woman named Ruby took over apparently. Both are on the sign still so I am unsure what to call it). Ruby's is located in Garfield Park and Austin told me that during the civil rights moment groups used to gather her before heading off into the city to serve up some justice. Cool, right? But the best part of this was just being able to chill with Austin and talk about our lives, over heaps of eggs and in Austin's case around 10 strips of bacon. (wow, we were not prepared for that).

In the afternoon, I headed back up north to my current favorite coffee shop, Noble Tree, in Lincoln Park to "work on some stuff." Really, what ended up happening was me just feeling discouraged about the lack of things in my life. So much so that on the journey home I almost started crying on the bus. (There is a "How I met your mother" episode where the group tells Robin that she isn't a true New Yorker until she cries on the subway and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Well, I am not sure if this standard is true or true in all cities... but if that is the case, then I am almost a "true" Chicagoan).

When I got back to the church, I was feeling fairly dejected from my own life. Thankfully though, I had a group of women there waiting for me to talk with and generally just be and have that be okay.

That evening we took the weekend group out to dinner in China town at a place called Spring World. The DOOR staff managed to get our own table, which was so wonderful and needed. And as I said goodbye to them later after the evening had come to an end, I started crying. Not because I am not sure when I will see those wonderful women again, but mostly because in the middle of this dark, deep "valley of the 20s,"  where I am running out of ideas and money, I have found surprising community that cares for one another in real ways. I am so grateful to have been a part of this.

And I am so glad that I came back up here this weekend to have a good reminded of that - and the fact that even though DOOR is over for me, that the community that we formed isn't, even if we don't see one another again for a long time. In a time when I feel like I am having to constantly give up community that I love for the great unknown, this is comforting to know and to be surrounded by for one last, good weekend.