"Well done, you," came the text from my husband. No, I hadn't broken some world record or anything. I'd simply found my way to downtown Saint Charles, Illinois from our house on my first solo walk this morning. I was pretty proud myself. My goal was to be able to find Town House Books because I'm meeting a local writing friend there Thursday, weather permitting, and I wanted to make sure I could get there.
My eyes had all but glazed over every time Chuck explained the "lay of the land," as my dad would say, whenever we ventured out in our car. He had told me something about a route number such and such, and another numbered road, and he told me all of the roads on the east side of town are called roads and all of the ones on the west side are named avenues (or was it the other way around?). He even drew me a simplified map on a legal pad to show all of the main roads I would need to get around the area. My brain can only hold so much data, and until I absolutely needed to know these things, I planned to postpone trying to store any new info for as long as possible.
I know he worried I would never find my way around if I didn't pay attention, but as long as I had him as a chauffeur, I knew I could just enjoy the ride, and blissfully tune out all of his chatter about directions. Whenever he started trying to orient me to where we were, I honestly felt like I was listening to Charlie Brown's teacher.
"Yes, ma'am?" I mean, SIR!
|I was finally ready to venture out on my own today, without my constant companion, who is kind of busy earning a living.|
My first two weeks here we were like Siamese twins, never doing anything without the other during the week of the wedding and the honeymoon. The sub-zero temperatures last week kept us walking at the mall when Chuck finally arrived home from work after his long commute, or we simply stayed indoors, avoiding the weather altogether, so I didn't have to worry about finding my way around anywhere but our house. I was doing well to remember that the glasses are in the cabinet to the LEFT of the sink, and the plates to the RIGHT, for now.
About an hour after Chuck left for work this morning, I began the process of bundling up in layers of clothing to brave the 16 degree day. I headed out the door, and across the rotary park, lumbering through the ankle-deep snow.
Overhead, Canadian geese were flying across the rotary park behind our home. There were cardinals flitting about in the thicket of bare limbs. I'm going to need a better camera than my cellphone to capture any good shots of them. They don't sit still long, and didn't appreciate my presence as I tried to get closer for a better picture. I love knowing they are so close to home, and will venture out later with my camera and a long lens.
Peering inside shop windows, and taking pictures along the way kept me entertained. After awhile, my nose began to run, and I wished I'd thought to bring Kleenex. And my lip balm. And easier gloves to take on and off. And thicker socks. And one more layer of clothing. I was making mental notes right and left, not sure I'd recall anything by the time I returned home.
As it turns out, I was glad Chuck had taken me on several walks, reviewing with me names of streets, and making me tell him which way we needed to go as we walked. It made it much easier today to find my way into town, and when I recognized the library, I was hopeful they would be open so I could run in to blow my nose. No such luck; when I walked up to the doors to read the hours of business right around 8 o'clock, I discovered they would be opening at 9. Sniffling along, I continued downtown.
When I found the book store, I let Chuck know by sending him a text. "Well done, you," was my reward. It made me smile. He is so glad I'm adventurous, and willing to get outside of my comfort zone.
I am adventurous. Three and a half months ago, I had never heard of Saint Charles or Chuck Bennorth. I was teaching second grade in rural Utah, entertaining thoughts of retiring in Saint GEORGE, Utah one day where it's sunny and warm nearly all of the time, not Saint CHARLES, Illinois, where it's humid and cold. Ah, but one thing we can count on is change.
After exchanging a few comments with each other on Facebook, Chuck and I struck up an immediate friendship, and now here we are, married, and I'm the newest resident of Saint Charles, where I find myself retired, and adjusting to my new town.
On my way back home, I exchanged greetings with the school crossing guard. She commented that I had gotten my morning walk in early.
"I'm new here; I'm busy exploring the town," I told her.
"Well, welcome. I hope you like it here."
I already do.
I didn't set any records for time; I was gone a little more than an hour and walked less that two miles, but I learned that trudging through snow-covered parks, and over unshoveled sidewalks provides a good workout; it was like walking on a sandy beach. Well, except for the elements of cold and snow.
It was with a mini-sigh of relief that I saw the snow-covered sign to the rotary park that let me know I was almost home. I sent Chuck another pic to let him know I'd found my way back to our neighborhood.
"Well done, you, again," was my reward. He's proud of his country mouse for adjusting to life with her city mouse. Yep, well done, me. I'm proud, too. And just really, really happy.