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Val's Polish Homecoming at Zakopane bar in Chicago, Illinois

A Polish homecoming.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

It kind of all feels like a dream. Like I just woke up and am trying to piece together fragments of what happened. Like the last fifteen months weren’t real, just vague memories that may or may not have existed.

It kind of feels like I took a time machine and stepped on a bug. So when I came back to the present, nothing major has changed, but the little things, the little things are different. Like the sushi place is now a seafood place. The corner Starbucks is remodeled. I don’t recognize anyone who works at Whole Foods. I’m sleeping in a different room of my apartment.

It kind of doesn’t feel weird. And that is weird.

I arrived back home, back in Chicago, after more than 24 hours of flight, after fifteen months away, over a week ago. And it doesn’t feel weird to be here.


Sure, I keep looking at the clock and trying to figure out what time it is in Chicago (it is the same time my clock shows). Sure I sometimes try to convert USD to USD (it’s a one-to-one ratio, if you’re curious).

But life is just back to normal.

Well, back to as much normal as possible when you’re back is still out after two weeks and you can’t stand on your own endeavor.

I went to the ER my first day back because I couldn’t walk anymore without holding on for dear life. The doctor told me exactly what I thought she would, that it’s just out, that the only thing that will work is time. But she gave me a lot of drugs. So that helped.

And my car is broken down. Which is probably not a big surprise seeing as it’s only been driven 200 miles in the last fifteen months. But I had to get it towed to a mechanic. I should probably call him back.

And because of both of those I had to cancel two of my homecoming events that I was looking forward to. And so I still have not eaten a slice of deep dish. And I still have not met my new nephew.

And I’m still living out of a backpack and now sleeping on an air mattress (which probably is doing wonders for the back problem). But I couldn’t stand to stay in the suburbs, or with my mom, for too long.

But it is nice to be in Chicago.

And, despite everything that seemed to be going wrong as soon as I touched down, my welcome home party at our favorite Polish dive bar was amazing. I got to see some of my old friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. I got to see some new friends I’d only met online or once or twice on the road.

I’d forgotten how nice it is to have people who know you, who get you, who you don’t have to explain yourself to. Who you don’t have to tell where you’re from, how old you are, what you do. Because they know. Because they know you and you know them.

It’s always nice to see your friends.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

 

p.s. One final reminder from the night that I’m not in Asia anymore…


Welcome home party at Zakopane in Chicago, Illinois.

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