Monday, May 13, 2013


It's amazing how so many things can change in such a short amount of time. I've been away from home for a while but I visited recently didn't I? Why does it all look so different now?

Home is always a culture shock and cause for anxiety. I'm doing my best to make the most of it, and have certainly noticed the far superior comfort of the bed here, and the lack of quarters needed to do laundry.

Shortly into this trip I needed to run some errands and took my old car out for a spin. First I went to the bank's drive up area to use the little shuttle for money. I sent up the deposit slip and cash through the shoot and waited. The attendant inside asked me how I was doing on the intercom and I said fine and continued listening to my music. Then she said: "Excuse me, Aviva? This slip is for Wells Fargo. Did you want to make a deposit here or with them?" It turned out that I had driven automatically to my old old bank in Skokie, IL which I haven't used in five years.

I got the money back and realized she would laugh about me all day with the rest of her work mates while I drove around seeking a Wells Fargo. There are only two in this area as opposed to the ten I can walk to in Seattle. One of them is quite near my parent's place here but since I was already pretty far west I figured there shouldn't be any problem finding the one on Touhy street....but I got lost. In my hometown! Everything was so much more traffic-y then I remember and it must have been hidden in some awful strip mall I've never been to. Thirty minutes later I made a U-turn in some weird industrial parking lot and drove to the location I knew of all the way back in Evanston. It took me an hour to deposit money.

On my second errand I went through the downtown Skokie area because my mom gave me disturbing news that I needed to check out for myself. She mentioned that the art school I attended on weekends as a child went out of business. I thought surely she was mistaken. They had been around since the 60's! There was just no way that this economic downturn would take them out. I drove by and saw the darkness within and a closed sign up in the middle of the day. It was true. I parked and went up to the door still hoping that there was some reason to believe it was temporary, but the place was mostly empty. A few frame samples and glass fixtures remained along with unopened mail shoved under the door. While I hadn't been inside for at least a decade, I believed some things are part of a neighborhood and will never change. It never occurred to me that my lucky little Village Art Gallery in Skokie, IL would be just a tiny memory someday.

I wasn't going to come on this trip. Hiding under my kitchen table was preferred to getting on the plane, but so far it hasn't been as terrible as expected. I've managed to make it to places that I like to go and catch up with some great friends that wonder what the hell I am doing, and that is always fun. People have called to invite me to salsa dance and go for bike rides and see comedy and go to board game night. Friends of mine have opened their own yoga studio and I already got to take classes there. I made it to The Moth story night, which I dearly love. It's a complete change from Seattle where I am constantly the ringleader of social activities, and hardly ever getting asked to hang out.

I've also noticed how much some of my friends in Seattle are pretty depressed and always seeing reasons not to do things. I am so tired of it. I felt that if I didn't invite people over or ask people out to happy hour, I would never leave the house. And plenty of people never called back, so I gave up on them entirely. I see their facebook updates but I really don't care. The change in myself from just being around happier more productive people in Chicago is significant. I want all sorts of new things. I want to join beach volleyball in summer, go kayaking, take salsa lessons again, paint, help remodel my dad's basement, go to the Lyric Opera, maybe finally finish that grad degree I started, etc. Who is this positive girl?

I even had ferocious anxiety about taking the red line train in Chicago. I always promise myself that I will not take it, but end up needing to anyway. Last time I was on the red line a man harassed women  and scared them into giving him money. By the time he got to my car someone called the conductor. The authorities were alerted and we had to wait there until he got arrested. He was replaced by a woman screaming obscenities. Well, for the first time ever, this suburbanite has been commuting by Metra train on this trip, which is a far nicer ride. The red line train and I are officially divorced. The Metra is faster, cleaner and more efficient, but pricier and much farther away from places I normally go. It's worth it. I can walk the twenty minutes. It was time I did some things differently if I wanted to have a better experience.

Some things, however, will never change.

The first day I visited my uncle and grandma I was hit with a barrage of annoyances, and had no escape that being on the phone could provide. I had no where to go and no where to be, and they knew it. I went willingly but nearly lost my mind.

GRANDMA: Avivitcha, you see vhat's goin in Boston? Terrible. Dey should hang zem.

AVIVA: It is terrible Grandma. Maybe you should turn off the news.

GRANDMA: No no. I not turn off. You no vatching Aviva?

AVIVA: I'm trying not to. You'll get sick with the same stuff over and over.

UNCLE: Hey Aviva. Aviva. Why you never telling me about Netflix?


UNCLE: Netflix. Why you not tell me to buy them?

AVIVA: Ok. Well you can get a membership if you want to. It's easy to set up.

UNCLE: No. I very angry wiz you Aviva. You wanna know why?


UNCLE: You don't know why?

(I shake my head)

UNCLE: Because! Netflix has doubled in stock! They're at almost 200%! We could have bought from the beginning! Why you didn't tell me???

AVIVA: I don't know about stock stuff Uncle.

GRANDMA: I tink dey terrorists. Al-Qaeda.

AVIVA: I don't think so Grandma.

UNCLE: I can't believe you knew about Netflix all these years and you never explain to me about them.

AVIVA: What do you mean? I just watch movies. That's all. I didn't even realize my account offered streaming until recently. I'm no expert.

UNCLE: What's streaming?

GRANDMA: Dey Al-Qaeda. I telling you.

AVIVA: I think they were working on their own Grandma. If they were in an organization they would have taken credit for it. They would have bragged.

GRANDMA: Wanna bet wiz me?

AVIVA: No, no thanks.

UNCLE: If you bet on Netflix you'd have a lotta money now!

GRANDMA: Vhat is necklace? You found necklace? Vehre?


GRANDMA: So? Vhat is a necklace? Vhat so important.

AVIVA: You can rent movies with them Grandma.

UNCLE: It's a company. Tell me about more companies you use Aviva. Now I know you're holding information from me.

GRANDMA: Ach. Who care? Necklace shmeklace. Avivitcha. I bet wiz you. Tventy dollahs. Dey Al-Qaeda.

AVIVA: Let's not bet.

GRANDMA: Because I right! Tventy. You gonna owe me. You see.

The troubles of having the family I do are many and mountainous. I'm glad they can be endearing and provide some entertainment once in a while. Going home is actually really nice sometimes. In the rare occasions that these people are on your side, it's a great feeling. It's a relief to take a breather and not feel my stress in Seattle apartment life and difficulty finding enough work. I'm glad to know the family all want to see me progress and do good things in the world, and they don't see me as a floundering fuck up anymore. I may help put up a new ceiling in that basement and stick around a while.

Grandma at first claimed that she won the bet, and I promised to take her to lunch. Then the sneaky woman slipped me an envelope with far more than a twenty in it.

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