This past winter when I thought I couldn’t stand it any longer, I decided to get away and visit my girlfriend, Peggy, in Chicago. Since I had invited myself, I told her I would get a room at a local bed and breakfast for a few days and see her whenever she could fit me in her schedule. The thinking was that I would have time to work as well as see Peggy. Well, Peggy was usually ready to do something soon after all her kids left for school, so we took one day to see the sites in downtown Chicago including the highly polished kidney bean called Cloud Gate and took another day to pick up Peggy’s daughter at nearby Trinity University. We ate lunch every day together, trying a variety of ethnic restaurants and saw all the local Oak Park museums, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Ernest Hemingway.
I stayed at an old Victorian B&B hosted by Gloria, a kindred spirit. Over breakfast we listened to each other’s writing adventures and we soaked in each other’s reassurances. Gloria was the one to tell me how she confidently wrote a play and had it produced at a nearby theater. She told no one about it….because she said, “Everyone will try to talk you out of it.” She just went to her special “saint room” and wrote and it was as if it was blessed by Saint Joseph himself. She had her family of grandchildren as her actors and she was the narrator. It was produced one night to a standing room only crowd. For some reason, this woman was like ambrosia to my soul. She was an energetic, warm host and I wished I could stay longer under her tutelage.
Another added benefit of this trip was getting to know Peggy’s family better. We were the only female attendants at each other’s weddings, but the demands of our children and family had sequestered our friendship for many years. We still sent the obligatory Christmas cards, but we had very little contact and lost touch with each other’s daily personal struggles that often keep friends bound together. So on this trip I got to talk to and spend some time with her oldest twins, Jessica and Amanda, and her son, Ryan, her husband Jon, and even their guide dog, Hunt. It wasn’t enough time, but it did provide a glimpse into Peggy’s life that I thoroughly enjoyed. How we have changed since our college days…how we have grown and matured and in some cases, become hardened to life’s cruel twists. How wonderful to reconnect and witness first-hand the daily joys and sorrows that make up Peggy’s life.