Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Last Friday (over a week ago), Bret started his vacation home to Idaho to see his sister, Karina, get married.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go because I had already agreed to pick up a dance student from Chicago that weekend (see previous post). Bret drove 3hrs to Austin, left his car at a friend's house, and caught a plane to Utah. He spent a day with my family (those meanies even took him to see Harry Potter without me!) and then borrowed D-rew's car to drive to Burley. He has spent the past week with his wonderful family. They have gone boating on the Snake River, played many games, prepared food and decorations for Karina's reception and family dinner, driven to Rexburg for the wedding, and have had lots of fun visiting with all the siblings and Grandma & Grandpa Black.
I so wish I could be with them. I miss my Bret's family a lot. I don't know if they know how much I admire and look up to them. I love being the oldest in my family, but feel blessed that I inherited a handful older 'siblings' whose examples teach me how to be a better wife and a better future mother. The Wardles, especially Millie and Jay, have taught me so much about being grateful for what is good rather than dwelling on what isn't perfect, about enduring through challenges with faith, about loving and supporting your children even when they make mistakes, and about simplifying life so that family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and quality time are always the priority.
On Wednesday morning I caught a plane to Chicago. Getting there was a piece of cake... no problems with flights or with navigating the trains (subway system). Shantal and Derek live in an AWESOME apartment that has a perfect view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan and also has great skyline scenes. Its right next to Millennium Park and the theatre/shopping district. I loved spending a couple hrs catching up with my BYU dance pal while enjoying that great scenery.
That evening Shantal and I picked up Allyson (mystudent) from the Joffrey, ordered Giordano's deep dish pizza, and met Derek at Millennium Park for a picnic and free concert by the symphony. We walked to Navy Pier, watched the fireworks, took Allyson home, and wandered back to their apartment through the park.
Next I planned to take two classes at another dance studio called Visceral Dance Center, quite a ways North of downtown. I was really stupid and only rode the bus 1/3 of the way there, not realizing that I could get on another bus. When I remembered about the second bus I realized there wasn’t quite enough money on my transit card for another ride and I didn’t have any cash. I walked about about 45 minutes to the dance studio and was way too late to take the first class. Instead I got dinner and set out to ensure that there would be money on my card to get home that night. (I could walk to the train station where there are machines that allow you to add money to your transit card with a credit card, but it would mean walking 20+ minutes in the dark in an area I didn't feel super safe in.) I tried getting cash back... no luck. I tried multiple ATMs... no luck. I tried calling my bank for help... no luck. (I haven’t needed to use an ATM for so long that I thought my Wells Fargo Visa worked as a debit card as well. Apparently it is the opposite way... my debit card can also work as an ATM card.) Sweet Bret was such a comfort to me as I worked myself into a panic. He told me to get back to the studio and take the second class so my long walk would be worth it, and figure it out after.
I took the Advanced Contemporary class from Lizzie Mackenzie and really enjoyed it. Ok, I mostly enjoyed it. I think if I hadn’t been so stressed and frustrated and lonely I would have liked it a lot more. I haven’t ever taken a legitimate contemporary class (its a little different than modern) and though I faked it pretty well, I certainl felt like my body and my brain were rusty from nearly 2 years of not taking a dance class. I loved the teacher’s style and her use of improvisation, imagery, and even somatics in class. After class it is customary to thank the teacher. I took the opportunity to ask her where the closest train station was. I think she could tell I was a little stressed (ok, she knew I was a lot stressed) and offered to drive me to a train station I had passed on my walk there. How kind is that? I was so grateful. She dropped me off and drove off and I discovered there was no transit card machine at the entrance, thus I still had no way to put more money on my card. Luckily I realized there was a second entrance to the train, went there, found the machine, put more money on my transit card, and got on the train. A few stations away from my destination, the train was stalled for about 10 minutes, but luckily it was able to continue on. Shantal even surprised me by picking me up at the station in her car so I wouldn’t have to walk the last 3/4 mile home (which was the least of my worries by then!). Note to self: Travel with cash. Travel with ATM card. Travel with a public transportation map, not just handwritten notes.
After about 4 hrs of sleep, I left Shantal’s apartment at 5:45 am, got a cab, picked up Allyson, and got to the airport by 6:20! We were certain that after such a smooth start to the day, and with 2 hrs and 40 min before our departure time, that we would have an easy time getting home. Nope.
The airport, which is always busy, was insane. Signs were unclear and nobody was there to help direct traffic, so we ended up waiting 45 minutes in the wrong line (mind you, we had asked other people for advice and they thought we were doing the right thing too!), then Allyson’s suitcase was too heavy and she had to adjust, then the security line was forever long (I wish I had a picture... words won’t do it justice). The gate number on our tickets were incorrect so we had speed-walk to a new area. Whew! We finally made it to the right gate 10 minutes before they started boarding. Note to self: San Angelo airport = 1-1.5 hrs early, SLC airport = 1.5-2 hrs early, Chicago O’Hare airport = 3-5 hrs early. Luckily, everything else was good. Our flight from Dallas to San Angelo was delayed an hour but not a big deal. I was so happy to get into my little car and drive myself home from the airport. Public transportation is ok, but I sure am grateful to leave behind the planes and trains and busses and stick to my automobile!
All in all, Chicago was a good learning and growing experience. I learned a lot about what do and what not to do when traveling in the city. I was forced to be ok with doing things on my own when I would usually have been accompanied by friends or family. It was harder than I expected to take dance classes alone and especially when I feel so rusty, but I learned to suck it up and not get discouraged or frustrated with myself. I learned that I don’t want to live in a big city. Its just too crowded and stressful. I realized how grateful I am for the prayer and the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When I was nervous or frustrated or lonely, I was so comforted to know that I could talk to my Heavenly Father. I felt empowered as I thought about the blessings of the temple that are with me always. I felt lucky as I saw incredibly talented and successful dancers who lacked the real joys of life that I have like a husband, the gospel, and a knowledge of my Savior.
I am glad that I got to go to Chicago, but I am so happy to be home and can’t wait until Bret gets back on Tuesday so we can be together again.