Hello Everyone –
I now live in the big city of Chicago! and I am so happy compared to living on the beach in Wilmington, NC that I almost can’t express it in words. How can I possible say that, you might ask? You left sea and sun and warmth for noise and crowds and soon-to-be-snow-covered streets? Well, since you asked….I chose Wilmington to settle in because it was in the area where we as a family had spent so much time while the boys were growing up. We vacationed on Holden Beach, a barrier island just south of Wilmington, for weeks each summer for many, many years. I have wonderful memories of all of our friends and family visiting us there. When John passed, it was where he asked that his ashes be scattered. We spent many wonderful hours dining and shopping and sightseeing in Wilmington, we even discussed retiring there, so you would think this would be a perfect place for me to settle down.
I am used to living in the diverse, colorful, fabulous, interesting neighborhood of Rogers Park. I am used to shopping at wonderful, little neighborhood markets instead of huge grocery stores for most of my food. I am used to the necessity of walking anywhere I have to go (I sold my car) and I have become extremely adept at riding all the forms of pubic transportation that Chicago provides it’s residents.
I am enjoying my membership in such diverse new groups as Friendship Force International, The Haute Couture Club of Chicago, The Windy City Walkers and The Chicago Digital Photography Group. I even found a nice little part-time job working 2-3 days a week as a reservation specialist for a small hospitality company. I have met more people and made more friends in 9 months than my entire 5 years in Wilmington.
So what’s next? A couple of HUGE family events will be taking center stage in the New Year. Son #1 and his wonderful, beautiful finance will be presenting me with my first grandchild in early January. They live in the San Diego area so I really won’t mind going out there for a few weeks to help out in any way I can at that time of year. Then in May they will celebrate their wedding in Cabo San Lucas. It will be my first time back in Mexico after living there several years ago and I’m looking forward to a return visit.
Once all the festivities are over, I will begin focusing on my plans to walk the Camino de Santiago. If you’ve heard about or seen the movie The Way staring Martin Sheen, then you know a little bit about the walk of St. James. I first learned about it reading Sherry Ott’s travel blog – http://www.ottsworld.com/. I became enthralled and engrossed with the idea and possibility of my actually doing this walk, this pilgrimage. The walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain is just a wee bit under 500 miles long. The average time it takes to walk is 4-6 weeks and yes, most do walk it alone.
Once this thought took a firm grip, I immediately started searching the web for all the information I could find and the first and most information-filled site I found was this one http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/ in case you want to read a bit about it. I then joined the huge, on-line forum with 1000’s of past, present and future walkers who so graciously and willingly share their insights, thoughts and helpful suggestions with each other and anyone who might pose a question. I’ve just ordered my first books from the library and Amazon and will spend the upcoming winter months learning all I can about this exciting adventure.
So you are asking Are you nuts? You’re 66 years old, you have a bad foot, a bum knee, not in the best of shape, and you think you can just take off to France, traipse over the Pyrenees mountains and across the vast northern plains of Spain to some cathedral on the other side? And to answer your question, the same one both boys asked at Thanksgiving, is you bet I do! And if that makes me nuts, then so be it.
Why are you doing this? I found while driving cross-country in the Jeep, when listening to music or books-on-tape was impossible with the top off, that I came to truly enjoy the solitude, the quietude, the peacefulness of only the sound of the wind whistling past. My mind was set free to roam from thought to thought. It was the very first time I had ever taken to really reflect on my life so far; what if anything I have accomplished that has meaning, besides the birth of two wonderful sons; and what did I still want to do, can I do, with the time I have left? Reading the many voices who have written about their experience walking The Camino made me even more sure that this is something I have to do while I still can.
So for those who enjoy reading long, rambling posting which will in turn allow you to ‘travel along with me’ wherever the road may lead….welcome…or as the case may be….welcome back. I only plan to post sporadically for a while, focusing on the highlights, maybe even a few low lights of my daily life, but I will keep you up-to-date on my preparations as I get ready for this next great adventure.
Until next time…..