I was laughing this weekend, as I was spending time in Chicago reconnecting with so many familiar faces, swimming in my extroversion. I was laughing as I walked into the hotel and IMMEDIATELY ran into a on old friend, Anthony, whose family and mine were intertwined for four years. I was laughing over what I was going to bring back for “Little inBetweens” as a gift. I was laughing remembering this is a Year of Nothing New, realizing I may have to pull an “Anthony” and find some shower caps in our hotel bathroom to gift them. Free and Fun! We all win! But seriously. When I look back on the five days in Chicago, I did need to remind myself about Nothing New here and there.
Our first stop was our hotel, a quick chat with Anthony, and out the door to the Chicago Institute of Arts. We walked right by Millenium Park, took the obligatory pictures at the Bean, and considered ice skating. Instead, we got out of the snow and spent the afternoon feeding our senses for FREE (AIC – it’s free weekdays in the winter)! It was here I had to first remind myself of our Year. Usually, I feel like perusing the gift shops of museums. As I walked from the traditional art toward the contemporary through the hallway-made-gift-shop (what’s THAT about?), I noticed my lust-filled gaze toward some pottery (it was so pretty! I was just looking!). Ashamed, I scolded myself and remembered my commitments, my vows, my integrity, before I moved on to walls of Picassos.
One of the perks of this weekend was the free stuff given us. This event is made for connecting and refreshing, and the coordinators shower “free” on you: free books, free bags, free food, free cards to eat at Johnny Jims, free public transportation day passes, etc…I realize this is all a part of the cost, but I had to sort through our “rules” in my head. In a Year of Nothing New, I don’t want stuff just because it is free. I’m buying Nothing New partly so there is not a never-ending cycle of consumption. Usually, when I get to a hotel, I take whatever sample sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, soap, etc, made available and stick it in my bags so it will be replaced while the room is cleaned (FYI we actually USE these items for camp, but still!) and I repeat this UNTIL WE LEAVE. Again I found myself ashamed as I thought of stashing my bag with the “forbidden”. Again I had to remind myself of Nothing New.
When we were walking from the El to our hotel, one of Mr. inBetween’s suitcase wheel’s fell off. Annoying, but workable. A few minutes later, I turned around to see him struggling as he pulled it over a sidewalk bump and watched his handle break off – for those of you who know him, I’m sure you are laughing as hard as I am typing this. Want to know what is even more hilarious? We were standing, I’m NOT kidding, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A LUGGAGE STORE! I stood there, laughing hysterically with my pretty little suitcase, while he sighed and grunted dramatically. This time I became the temptress saying, “Maybe you just need to buy a new suitcase, it’s only $50, LOOK!” I meant it, he paused. Ashamed, we continued walking to the hotel.
As the five days were ending, I was feeling revived about the connections made, the conversations had, and I found myself debriefing in thought over it’s entirety. I had steered myself away from New and Frivolously Free, instead enjoying amazing food (a girls gotta eat) and dynamic people. I was thinking this over while walking into the hotel on our last night when Mr. inBetween said, “What should we buy our kids to take back?” I just looked at him. Ashamed he responded to himself, “Oh yeah.” Those sample bottles were looking mighty luscious, after all.