But almost immediately, I left Chicago to head back to Michigan for a reunion of some of my old college buddies. To do this, I had to take the Metra from Wilmette all the way to the south end of the city so Chris could pick me up. Before I went to buy my ticket, I was subconsciously trying to figure out how to say the words I needed. I apparently do this every time I have to talk to a stranger in Argentina. As I approached the station house, I of course realized that I was in the US and didn't need to translate anything. Also of course, the woman didn't know the answers to my questions anyway. But this brain function continued for the next couple of days when dealing with any waiter, teller, or other somewhat helpful person.
Getting back to Ann Arbor was great as always. This particular reunion has gone on for the last ten years, but I've actually only been part of the gang for the last six or so. Everyone lived together in college except me, but I've become an honorary member with full standing. The Michigan/Ohio State game, uhhh... let's not sully this blog by talking about it here. The full report in all its whiny glory can be found over at Road Games. Seeing the gang all together was great. One had his third baby just the night before and others had come from as far away as South Carolina and Florida (but yeah, I had 'em beat on the mileage).
Some of the best guys in the world!While the gang had a great time and reminded everyone what an awesome group it is, some things didn't feel quite right. When out at some bars, I found myself randomly talking to people. But I was met with a pretty gruff attitude in each of those cases. No, I wasn't hitting on women. It must simply be very normal for people in Buenos Aires to talk to those around them. This is definitely not so normal in the US. I didn't even realize I had changed much in this regard, but the porteños have clearly rubbed off on me.
From there, it was back to Chicago. A chance to see old friends, spend time with family, and tie up all the remaining loose ends. But Chicago felt very strange. over 28 years of my life have been spent there, but on this trip, I was a tourist without a home. Actually, that's not true. It felt very clear to me that my home (mi hogar ahora) is Buenos Aires. That's surely a good thing considering I'm here for at least two more years. I just didn't expect it to happen this quickly. Then again, the three months have felt more like six.
I slept in a different bed/air mattress nearly every night and got to see all the Nielsen folks and a whole slew of friends. Brad was back from Amsterdam, which was awesome, though without Natalia in tow which was not so awesome. Nevertheless, I think I saw everyone I was supposed to and managed to eat pretty high on the hog as well. Between a few exquisite meals prepared in Ma Reed's cocina and various Chicago favorites, I was far from hungry. Unfortunately, my camera was broken for much of the excursion so there are no family photos. Luckily, Brad was able to play Jimmy Olsen on the obligatory return trip to Piece:
Also some of the world's best guys. Nielsen represent!
I didn't realize it until I decided to post the photo, but this is actually a picture of me and my three oldest friends on what will surely be my last night in Chicago for a very long time. They also happen to be some of the other greatest guys in the world.
Look at all that water we're drinking. How responsible of us.
On the last night, I ducked out for a bit to see Japanese speed/metal act Boris at the Empty Bottle. I felt bad removing myself from the party for a bit, but this is what I do in Chicago, and something I have yet to figure out in BA. Plus, Boris melted pretty much every face in attendance. You gotta beat the cold somehow. Besides, I made it back out and we kept having fun. Exhibit A:
It's 3am. Spot the Argentine resident in this group.
From there, I hung with McRae at his pad for the last time in a long time and made it back to Mom and Dad's by 4am. They drove me to the airport but not before Mom packed me the most impressive sack lunch ever eaten at O'Hare International Airport (it was so plentiful, in fact, that I had to finish much of it at JFK). A fierce snowstorm moved in on Chicago just as I was leaving. And now it's almost summer. There's no question that at least in a few respects, I've traded up here.
People love to ask what I miss about Chicago. Honestly, outside of family and friends there isn't a big list. I guess I'm adaptable. But there are some things I definitely don't miss about life in the states. And here's that list:
- Commercials for Tyler Perry's House of Pain - I've never watched the show, but the commercials are bad enough. Thank goodness I can't see those here.
- The d-bag quotient - McRae and I discovered that they've infiltrated Wicker Park somethin fierce. We really don't have d-bags here in BA.
- Driving a car - But that's not really a surprise, is it?
- The commercialization of Christmas - Of course, I'm not coming at this from a pompous Bill O'Reilly angle, but even before Thanksgiving it was impossible to avoid the annoying music and decorations. This photo was taken in a train station a full week before Thanksgiving:
- I interviewed Brad from his brother's rooftop for his blog. Check it out in all its rambly goodness here.
- I've mentioned this before, but there's a real problem with coins here. Slate has a column on it that is accurate and informative.
- I reviewed the new Guns N' Roses album over at FtY.
- More updates to come shortly, including a recap of the Monte Hermoso Beach Ultimate tournament. Until then, hasta luego!