So I went to Illinois for the Thanksgiving weekend, specifically Paxton for the day itself and Elmhurst for most of the rest. And of course some time in the O'Hare Corridor, Phoenix and Denver. For what it's worth.
The whole thing was good, and I'm glad I made the trip. Highlights include John and me riding the West Coast Offense to backyard football victory over the forces of LAS majors, the family being awesome (this is how things normally are... over the last few years I've really come to appreciate how awesome my family is), weather being even better than in California and Frisbee! Also, missing out on Johnurag Palinsenmond's trip to White Castle is something I'm glad for :-P.
I'm disappointed about narrowly missing connections with both Heather and Jess, and then when trying to round up people for Sunday morning ice skating downtown realizing that all my information about how to contact people was in California, except for AIM, and nobody was on. So that didn't happen. And also realizing that it takes me longer to prepare to call people on the phone than it does to actually talk to them, which I somehow had never noticed before. That needs major improvement.
I was terribly sad on the airplane back west to Phoenix, but on the one from Phoenix to San José I was too busy defending my seat from the invading forces of some dude's gigantic arm to think about anything else.
I have had various conversations lately that have made me think about this place a lot, this place being, approximately, "California in the context of it being where my job is and almost nothing else". My mom talked about one time when she had just moved to Chicago and had lots of work to do and stayed home alone for Thanksgiving. She was a two hour drive from most of her family and friends. And my grandma talked about my mom moving to Chicago, and how that seemed like such a long way away. And of course my mom's sisters live on the same street, not a mile away from the house they grew up in (where my grandma still lives); a truly impressive portion of my mom's extended family lives in Paxton, and almost all of it is within central Illinois. So it is kind of a long way away, still. But. Consider making a trip from Chicago back to Paxton. It's two hours from "I'm coming to see you" to "I'm at your doorstep" (at most 3 in horrible traffic) and you'd spend maybe $30 for gas round-trip. Santa Clara to Chicago area? You'd be lucky to pull it off in a day (especially if your "doorstep" destination was outside the Chicago city limits), and spend at least $600 for round-trip airfare (if you were on short notice, which is the scenario I'm using). It means trips have to be very occasional and well-planned, they practically require time off work, and there isn't much flexibility. Which is kind of not how I roll. Air travel does shrink the country, but it doesn't shrink it *that* much.
My mom and I both moved to unfamiliar places where we had no community for the sake of our careers. So many people, especially those growing up in urban or suburban areas, leave communities for careers. Go off to a place where they have a lot of "room above their heads", earn more money than they need, and then spend tons of it getting back to some community (if it can even be said to exist anymore when they get back), or supplanting it. I am really having a hard time seeing what's gained from complicating my life like that. I am really having a hard time seeing why we can't stick together instead of scattering like billiards balls that then have to be gradually knocked back into the pockets. It takes me a really long time to get comfortable somewhere, especially when I've had as little help as I've had here, and I just need to know where my option went to choose community instead of career. I could have moved back to Elmhurst, stayed in Champaign-Urbana after college, or I could move to Chicago now, and almost everyone I know from those places is either gone or will be soon. In Paxton you can stick around and not have to re-find yourself every few years. And when people leave they can come back and find some continuity. Where is my option? The masses of people in these new places just make me more alone.
I also talked to one of my cousins, who gets bored even spending Thanksgiving weekend back in Paxton. He drove to Chicago and back Thanksgiving night, which is something I'd probably not do but for a very good reason. (Well, I did Elmhurst->Champaign->Chicago->Champaign in a weekend once, and the reason was pretty good.) He's probably the kind of person that would be better off living in a more exciting place; you know, a smart dude that would get in trouble because he was bored in school, someone that likes to have lots of people around and things going on. He should be doing what I'm doing. He also talked about some girl that wasn't giving him "happy endings", so I probably should have suggested he have her read him some fairy tales.
I really did a lot of listening this past weekend. And some responding. I guess this is another response, just a big overall response.
I think I'll leave it at that.