Every single time I turn that bend on the 90/94 expressway and suddenly the brick buildings and the hulking steel structures appear in front of me . . . I feel a settled-ness, a calmness, a great big warm sigh of relief right in my belly and my head and my heart. And yesterday was no different. I love Chicago.

Yesterday, I had the entire afternoon all to myself in my Grandma’s apartment. I re-organized my suitcase. I’ve not had a moment to do this for several weeks. It’s difficult to get going in the morning when you can’t find your toothbrush. Then I laid down on her bed and took a few deep breaths and then thought, “OK . . . what next?”

Then it hit me . . . my Chicago friends were having an afternoon BBQ. There is just no way I can be in the state of Illinois and not go see all of them. And now, reflecting on it, I’m so glad I did. It was a magical convergence. It just so happened that there was a special training event going on in town and so several of my friends from Detroit, St. Louis and San Francisco also showed up. I didn’t tell anyone I was coming up either, so when I ran into the courtyard, everyone was really surprised. It was great. I mean, there’s nothing much that compares to ten of your favorite people all arguing over who gets to pick you up and bear hug you first.

I retold all my latest adventures and a few of these friends pointed out that for the four years they’ve known me, I have always been a gypsy. (I hadn’t realized that, not really.) I put some pieces of the puzzle of “what will Anna do next” together and ran into some folks who can help educate me about straw/cob housing – which is my latest interest. Everyone is trying to convince me to move there.

We ended my 24 hours in town with lunch at one my favorite restaurants – Lula- located in Logan Square. I highly recommend this cafe – the food is always local, fresh, unique and priced very reasonably, especially considering the eclectic mix of items that they serve. They serve brunch daily, not just on weekends and everyday the menu changes. I had the beet & arugula bruschetta – one of my favorites. Their bread is always grilled to perfection, never doing damage to the inside of your mouth the way alot of bruschettas have a tendency to.

Also the art there is always really great. I’ve been patronizing Lula for four years now. When I first lived in the neighborhood, they were never crowded during the weekdays, so now to arrive on a Monday afternoon and be put on a wait list was impressive for the tiny cafe that I’ve grown to love so much.

So I left late this afternoon, heading back down south, rambling ever closer to Nashville. I was going to drive all night, but an old friend in Champaign just called and so we’re going to catch up. Yup, the adventure always continues . . .