On the Road Again.......

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Unsure of the date- that must be a good thing! Am in St. Louis, but need to finish off Chicago.

Let's see- best diagnosis is that due to back pain I was grinding my teeth in my sleep with a result that my jaw almost dislocated. Have spent past five days in pretty severe pain, unable to chew, and only after much stretching and medicating able to start opening mouth to speak somewhat close to normally. Along with this, the heat got to me. So I spent one day in Jody's house, mouth firmly clamped shut, jaw aching like hell, and just too overheated/exhausted to leave. I did do some good reading (first three books of the "Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Book of the Dun Cow"). I also caught up on things-I-am-doing-for-others. Of course, this set me back on leaving once again. However, in some ways, I wasn't in a hurry to go- Chicago is a great place that I really love, and having built-in friends here it is almost too 'homey' to leave, and there isn't a real rush. I mostly survive on noodles, ice cream and McDonalds Filet-O-Fish (then are pretty soft) and best of all, lost some more weight per Tim's scale!

Dinner again with Phong and Tim on Friday, and due to a scheduling snafu, I ended up staying over on the couch once again. Since I didn't have any clothes with me, Tim gave me an 'early birthday present'. When Kyle, his niece, was out a few months ago they bought me a T shirt. So I got that to wear. Of course, the T shirt was brown and had pink edging at the sleeves and bottom and said in big pink letters across the front "Ohio Girl". I was not sure about wearing it, but the day before had noted that everyone has cool T shirts that say things that I laugh at, but I could never bring myself to buy! So there I was, hoist on my own girlie T shirt. I wore it for the hell of it.

It's interesting to get a lot of stares. I know now what it's like to have people stare at your chest, not your face and can sympathize with my female friends! I got lots of comments (all good actually) and wore it as we went shopping in "Andersonville", (and I peeked into an 'open house' at a condo- gorgeous! But way out of my price range).

While shopping at a store, a salesman looked at me and said "I know you!" Of course, I thought another smart alec comment about the T shirt was coming but he said "You're Tom!" And since I am, in fact, Tom, I paid attention. Turns out he remembered me from a visit 5 years ago (guess I ain't wrinkled up that much in the intervening years) and he is friends with a long lost friend from years ago. Angel is a friend who goes way back in our (Tim and I) lives to our time in South Jersey and with whom we share a lot of history and memories. He moved to Chicago six or seven years ago and we all somehow lost touch. In minutes we were on the phone with him and agreed to meet for dinner!

I picked up Jody later in the day (and changed my T shirt) and we all went shopping in the "Armitage" section of the city for several hours. We then went to the restaurant to meet Angel and Felipe (the friend who recognized me). It was a great reunion and Jody and Phong were good sports while we reminisced about years ago and people we knew. Not all was pleasant, as we have lost some friends over the years, and I got a little teary towards the end of the evening.

Sunday I slept in and then Jody and I had brunch and I ran off to Boystown to keep an appointment. Now, I asked about the hair and got plenty o' replies- but decided that a teeny tiny trim around the edges would be ok so got to Tim's hair salon for my three o'clock appointment with his stylist, Jesus.

I spoke with Jesus about what I wanted to do (just a slight trim, am growing it long) and he got to work. A very handsome man (who advised me he works out 5 days a week, and in the teeny tiny T shirt he wore, every muscle showed he wasn't lying), he looked deep in my eyes and said "you should consider doing something with the color". Now, I am a sucker for handsome men looking deep into my eyes, but that wasn't what I hoped he would say. He called the other stylists over (when I said no) and suddenly I was the center of attention for several very attractive men, staring into my eyes and telling me how better I would look if I listened to him. Now, we all know I have a graduate degree in Psych and I know everything about peer pressure and manipulation- so I said yes. Hey, who can resist a bunch of hot guys staring at them and suggesting they do something!?

Anyway- let's get a few things straight. I don't dye my hair (of course, like everyone, in college I experimented a little with chemicals but...I didn't inhale!). Last year for a birthday present, a friend took me to a spa and I got my first ever manicure, pedicure and after some pushing, highlights in my hair. But that's it for me. My hair bleaches out in the summer and turns dark in the winter. Well, enough of this, anyway, the plan was to take my 'base color' and go up 2 shades with a few highlights. The rationale was that as my hair was getting longer it already was looking kinda funky with old winter dark, then some light from the trip to Miami in March, then some dark, then some new summer bleached and, well you get the picture- kinda like a raccoon's tale.

So I spent the next two hours learning about the tedium of hair care; foil, bleaching, hair dryers, color etc. Then it was back for the cut.

Well, when you put your trust in Jesus, you just gotta let go. So I did. When he was done, I looked in the mirror.

Um, I kinda nearly lost it. Again, I now understand when my female friends freak out about their hair and scream "Look at what he did to me!". Of course, on others, I can't tell and it all looks the same to me. On me, I was mortified and wondered how I would get to my car without people pointing and laughing. I used my best 'happy face' and thanked him, paid waaay too much money and ran out.

The plan had been for me to leave after the 'trim' but since I had been in there three hours, once again, I didn't leave Chicago. I got my bags from Jody, said goodbye (after washing my hair- he'd put tons of gunk in it) and headed back to Tim's. We went out to dinner at Cornelia's (I was getting to be a regular) and I swear (and Tim can back me up) that the following happened:

The a/c was out so the restaurant was being cooled by fans- I was sitting in front of a fan and my hair was a-blowin away and the piano player said into her microphone "I love your hair. It's so sexy". Of course, we looked around, and I did one of those stupid movie faces and pointed at myself and said "Me?". "Yes, you. It's gorgeous."

Swear to god.

Trust in Jesus!

Back to Tim's and on the couch. As I was lying there this thought hit me:

Here I am, 45 years old, sleeping on my ex's couch, watching late night tv and eating cookies, looking to find myself...

Um, that snapped me right out of it! I hit the road today! Very hot drive, through beautiful country. I put the top down for a while (and slathered on sunscreen) and drove in my bathing suit- hey, why miss the chance to catch some rays? But when the temp hit 102, the top went up and the a/c went on. Of course, despite precautions I have a sunburn- but this one is interesting- I have a 'sash' running across my chest from the seat belt! Great radio (St. Louis Jazz!), smooth roads, quaint farms, time to think my own thoughts again. Lovely drive.

I know my jaw is better because I crested a hill and saw St. Louis in front of me. And my jaw dropped. The Arch is incredible! I am two blocks away on the 14th floor and looking right at it! It towers over every building in the city. I took a quick walk but since the temp is still 98 I thought I would catch up on this.

After a rest and shower I decided to use one of 'perks' I have. Back when I traveled a lot for work, I joined several hotel frequent guest clubs. One perk here is that I can eat at the "Missouri Athletic Club". It's a fusty old school club (lots of 'yes, sir' from the front door all the way to the restaurant), members only, and here I sit in the dining room typing away. I doubt I could ever qualify for membership- but it is lovely. Built in 1915, full of old art and carved wood, I am loving it. What I find funny is that there is some loudmouth over at the bar going on about how he didn't like Cleveland because it was too 'clique-y' and he couldn't make friends. Thus far, St. Louis reminds me terrifically of Cleveland. Small city, some offices downtown but then the whole place closes up at five. During my walk I found almost nothing open and fear it will be a quiet night in the hotel room. I can't speak of friendliness or 'clique-y' ness of either city but isn't perception everything?
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