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Letter From Tampa

Well, it's been a few weeks since I left Chicago and drove halfway across the country to Florida, land of my birth. My last stint in Chicago lasted three years, in increasingly crappy apartments, but with increasingly great friends, all of whom I miss very much. (You know who you are, except Andrew, who doesn't have a computer, so someone pass it along to him, will you?)

It's amazing how radically my life has changed since the end of April. I survived a four-day trip with my parents, something any adult would find trying. We unloaded 99 percent of my stuff into storage and kept the remaining one percent for my room at my sister's house, where my dog, Jed, and I are living with her and her husband until September. I've downgraded from a one bedroom apartment, all to myself, to one bedroom in a house with two other people, two other dogs, and a cat. I sleep in a single bed, which makes me feel like I'm about eleven years old. But my sister and her husband have certainly been welcoming, to the point that my brother-in-law dropped everything in order to get me coffee and butter my waffles and get me out the door the morning my alarm didn't go off.

Oh yeah, the alarm. After three years without continuous employment, it took me two weeks to find a job down here, thanks to the press association web site. I'm at a small weekly paper about forty miles from where I currently live, and since the paper came out today, I'm bored witless, though yesterday I got a lesson in Quark and did a lot of proofing, which was kind of fun.

Life's changed a lot. I miss Chicago a ton. I miss its vitality and its edginess and its attitude. I miss my pals. I miss the Flying Saucer and the Beachwood Inn. I even miss my crappy apartment.

But I love those Gulf sunsets. I love taking the dog out to Picnic Island for Frisbee and swimming, and watching that big orange disc slip behind the horizon.

I love dragging out my old hippie togs and heading out to Skipper's Smokehouse every Thursday night to see Uncle John's Band, and dancing my cares away. And I love the friends I've already made down here. Seems like it took me the better part of two years to really find people to love up in Chicago.

Down here? There's Wil, and Jessica, Grateful Dave and Gator and Per, not to mention my old friends Kat and Henry.

I won't lie. It's hot as hell down here, and there are plenty of Bible-thumpin', right-wing, jackasses to go around. But when you're sitting on the beach at night, with a band in the background and the stars in the sky, and the waves rolling on the shore, well, there's a lot to be said for coming on back to the old family homestead.


Beachwood contributor ML Van Valkenburgh's works include:

- Booklist: A Beachwood Gift Guide.

- Booklist: Five Best Books Ever (For Now).

- Genre-Bending: A Literary Trend To Loathe.

- From The Doggie Desk: A Few Words About Jed.


Posted on June 6, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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