Before heading to Chicago from Milwaukee I had one very important stop to make in Mundelein, Illinois. Right now you might be thinking to yourself, "Mundelein? What is that? I've never heard of Mundelein. Am I supposed to know what that place is?" If that was your reaction then you are in the same category as everyone I have ever known. No one knows what Mundelein is except for my dear friends, the Heird family, and that is who I was going to visit.
My friend and host, Cobbie, drove me to the Amtrak station in downtown Milwaukee. I wasn't allowed to bring my bike on the train, so I left my ride at Cobbie's place. For the first time in about a month I was being separated from my bike. At first this realization caused me some weird pangs of separation anxiety. Part of me felt like I might be trapped without my bike. But then I loosened up. It occurred to me that the opposite may just as well be true. As much as my bike did liberate me, it was also terribly burdensome. Quite frankly it was heavy, filthy and oblong. It might not be so bad to spend a few days without my beloved bike. Oh God. Is this what parenting is like?
Anyways, I hopped on the Amtrak train and made my way to Mundelein to have some, uh, Fundelein.
I was received at the Glendale train station by Leslie, who, for all intents and purposes, is my second mother. She has known me ever since I was a little snot-nosed skater kid. After being away from home for a month, it was really comforting to be greeted by a great big, "Hey Hon!" (If you're from Maryland then you'll get it). She drove me through suburbia en route to their new home.
Their place truly felt like home. I shlepped all of my stuff to the guest room and then hit the couch. I would spend the next two days binge watching cable, updating my blog and storming their fridge. After living like a vagabond it was really nice to be a spoiled brat for a few days.
Mark, Leslie's husband and my second father, joined us for dinner. They were kind enough to grill up a few steaks to help me refuel after all the riding. I felt like I was reliving my adolescent years. I was once again at Mark and Leslie's place, stuffing my face with home-cooked food and politicking. It has always been a joy to exchange ideas with the two of them. I hate to categorize people, but they were a bit of a conservative counter balance to my rather liberal parents. For example, my parents used to teach me about grassroots movements in Latin America, of which Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were revered as great ideological leaders and liberators. Mark was the one who would reminded me that Fidel Castro, despite leading a socialist revolution, enjoys the luxury of driving a Mercedes Benz, unlike most Cubans. Dinner with the Heirds really brought me home.
Before I passed out, Mark delivered a gift to my room. It was a wooden picture frame from the dollar store and a picture of their son, Sam, and I at age 9 doing the "captain stance" with our bowl cuts. He explained that the gift was intended to make me feel a bit more at home. He also explained that the picture was supposed to be mounted in the frame but he couldn't quite figure out how to get it in there, so I was getting it in two pieces. I can't blame the guy. I actually went on to spend ten minutes fighting with the frame to no avail. It was a lovely gift that reminded me of how great the Heirds are.
I recharged for the next few days in Mundelein before heading South to the Windy City.