I dreamed of home last night. Walked down the halls of my elementary school and saw the smiles of my former teachers. Saw the pride in their eyes when I told them I was moving back from Oklahoma, finally, to work on my Ph.D. Told them I was majoring in English Composition and Rhetoric, and that I want to focus on Freshman Composition. Saw the pride again when I told them I’d taught high school, and married a wonderful man. Saw the tears form when I told them how happy I was, and heard them say how happy they were for me. They’d always hoped I’d be happy someday. It’s the cold truth that I usually wasn’t, when I’d been a student there. I don’t remember much else about the dream, but I do remember how I felt: I felt at peace, happy, and at home.
I know why I dreamed this. The other night, just for fun, I searched the Maps app on my iPad for “Chicago” – the app dropped a pin at Washington and La Salle streets – the “zero point” where east meets west in any city map. I was showing my husband that Chicago doesn’t have much of an “east side” of town, and then, just for fun, I scrolled over to find my childhood home, and the former home of my childhood best friend, less than a block away. More scrolling led to my elementary school, the one I dreamed of, where my mother taught, and where I spent seven years of my childhood. I tried to find other landmarks, but it’s been so long, and I couldn’t remember all the details, and that makes me sad.
I even know why I was looking at maps of Chicago. For the first time in a long time, I have a real, legitimate, meaningful reason to move back – there’s a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago that I really want to study with for my Ph.D. My amazing husband is willing to move anywhere in the world to ensure that I get the best education we can find (he says he can be a chef anywhere, and I certainly don’t know of any place that doesn’t have restaurants and hotels).
So home is very much on my mind right now. I don’t think I realized just how homesick I was until going back became a real possibility. Now, my thoughts are full of the Windy City. I’m remembering so very many good times, and so very many fun places. I know things have changed – it’s been almost twenty years – but I’ve been back often enough to know that while some things have changed, many others have stayed the same.
I can’t wait to go home. I can’t wait to show my husband my amazing city, and show my city my amazing husband. Look out, Chicago – it’s going to take awhile, but I’m already on my way.