It's just a few short days from my birthday and I'm getting stressed thinking about having to decide what I want to do/get/eat. Tonight my best friend is taking me out to dinner. Wednesday my family is offering me dinner. That means I have to choose two restaurants in Lubbock that I'd be willing to enjoy. And it dawns on me just how much I miss Chicago. Every restaurant in Lubbock is the same. Hamburger, steak, or Bar-b-q. I hate them all. The pubs are only about cheap domestic beer, the sandwich shops have never heard of bean sprouts, avocado, spinach, and all the other delicious veggie concoctions. The mexican food places are texmex which is great flavor but I can never be sure that it's actually vegitarian. How can you be healthy without meat? my family wonders. They insist that I get blood work done soon to insure that I'm not anemic. I am certain that I am healthy and getting better protein and iron then they ever have.
I crave Uncommonground Cafe on Clark street in Chicago. I want a treetini and veggichili. I want avocado bruschetta and tofu Benedict from Earwax Cafe on Damen. I want to have access to Somali, Vietnamese, Arabian, and Indian food all within walking distance. I want a delicious mushroom shaped pizza from Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders. I almost wish I wasn't a vegetarian so I could have fish n' chips the Grafton Pub while enjoying the warmth and comfort of the plush couches and corner fireplace. I wish I could have Caribou Coffee, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. I would even like McDonald's cousin, Chipotle for a filling of black beans, four types of hot salsa, and guacamole. Any of these tasty small places will meet my craving. Most of all I want to take my jeep Clayton into the intercity of Chicago, slowly maneuvering narrow streets, avoiding pedestrians with a few like-minded friends who accept me and don't want to change me. I want to enjoy their conversation. I want to be the master of their adventure. I don't want to be confined to a homogeneous town of 200,000 ultra conservative agricultural offspring. I want to be surrounded by people from all of the nations, speaking every conceivable language, belonging to a myriad of cultures, and living at peace as neighbors. This is part of what Chicago means to me and I miss it like crazy. I want to cold, the snow, the exercise, the trails, the train, traffic, and the three-fold community I once belonged to (school, work, church/faith). I am a foreigner in my hometown. I enjoy the work I do here but life is taxing as it is in another country. I belonged to the Chicago culture even though I was born a couple thousand miles away. Okay, it's time to put on a smile and get ready to meet my best friend. I love her, she loves me, it's just different now.