Last week I spent a few days wandering around my old Chicago neighborhood.  Some highlights:

  • Playing “bags” (a white trash horse-shoes-type-game popular with drunken tailgaters) in the alley on a weekday night with a bunch of college students at midnight.  The group called me three different names:  Uncle John (my two nephews), John (those I had known while I was a youth group leader), and Mr. Neill (ex-students).
  • A night out with my ex-bandmates.
  • Seeing the Poster Children play at Millennium Park.

One of their 1st shows in three years…

  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with old friends.
  • A street festival in my old neighborhood.  My neighborhood was such a crappy place to live back in 1990.  I remember working as “street security” for empty festivals.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown up.  It’s now a destination – streets lined with sexy restaurants, cafes, and bars.

All grown up…

  • Lunch at Al’s Beef…crappy lemon ice at Mario’s…lunch at Rosebud’s sidewalk café…tacos at El Milagro.  My stomach is confused.  It’s not used to eating good food.

Same ugly lemonade stand.

  • Being recognized EVERYWHERE I went.  People I barely knew would stop me, wanting to know everything about my new life.
  • Seeing Mr. Wallace’s car again:

Two women marveling in wonder…

Two years ago, I left Chicago thinking I hadn’t left much behind.  After this trip, I have a better idea of just what I left behind.