For the final part of my trip to NYC, I had the opportunity to enjoy the city on my own. I love having the chance to explore a new place at my own pace, absorbing the sights and sounds and pausing to snap a photo when I stumble across something of interest. The best part of wandering through the city solo was realizing how much of a city girl I am, as I felt very much at home amidst the diverse crowds and skyscrapers.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of setting up for another family dinner, I decided to step outside to enjoy another abnormally warm winter day. I ended up walking through a park near our apartment. I savored the view of the blue sky and the openness of the field. What I enjoyed even more was unintentionally finding myself walking down memory lane. I thought back to the day I had spent in the park with my high school gang the day after our graduation. I imagined watching youth league baseball games on the park’s diamonds, which my brother participated in when he was in grade school. I smiled at the memory of all the runs I had around the park this summer that helped me get into better shape.
In addition to these memories, I also relished in seeing the renovations that have been done in the area over the years that I’ve been in college. I walked past the building where I had gone to Polish Language school from preschool to third grade, and where I had taken social dance lessons with a couple of cousins. I peered into the gelateria that has replaced the dance studio, and pleasantly discovered that there was a new preschool within the building. Further down on my walk, I passed the banquet hall where I had enjoyed my 8th grade dinner dance, and admired the renovations that had been done to the restaurant that my brother always orders pizza from. I later discovered that a fast food restaurant had closed down, which was probably the better option given the quality of the food. Overall, it was nice to see these successful upgrades to the businesses and buildings I have grown up with.
Other than the memories, the walk metaphorically (and literally) gave me a breath of fresh air. It takes me a while to adjust to being back in Chicago for a break, especially since my life here is much quieter and slower-paced than the one back in school in Boston. Briefly reliving some memories in my head as I walked through my neighborhood reminded me that, well, this is my home. This neighborhood is where I grew up for 18 years and have been fortunate to visit every few months for the past 4.5 years.
People have been asking me where I plan to stay after finishing up school. Originally, I had not planned on returning home. Yet the less time I spend here, the more I come to appreciate where I’ve grown up, and the more I realize how much my heart is tied to my home and is drawing me to return.
When my brother and I are home for break, there’s always a night or two that we end up snuggling with our mom under the covers of our parent’s bed. My mom and I usually delve into a life talk as I pour out whatever is on my mind, while my brother acts as the comic relief, causing trouble and making us laugh. This particular time, we laughed over photos that I took at the Christmas Eve dinner the night before. I also shared snapshots from a recent trip downtown as well as from my time in Boston. This little gathering always results in some good family time, and it comes to show that you’re never too old to get cozy under your parent’s covers.
I took a break from lounging at home by running a quick errand. On my way back, I took my time with my walk and followed a longer route. It felt nice to move my legs and to be out in the fresh air. I’m usually not a fan of the cold, but I do enjoy the crisp, wintry air when I’m sufficiently bundled up as I did today. Sometimes I like to be a homebody, but time to time I do need a nice quick break outside.