I’m actually looking forward to winter. I love the stuff. When I was growing up, my dad was in the Navy (as was my stepmom), and we lived in several states. In 1989, we moved to northern Illinois, and then in 1992 it was off to Nebraska.
I don’t recall exactly when we got to Illinois, but I know it was before school started. I remember playing aimlessly in our front yard since I knew exactly no one in the neighborhood. I was 10 years old and going into the 5th grade.
Sometime in October or November, we had to go into Chicago to finalize my baby brother’s adoption. Or maybe it was his naturalization as a citizen. Something along those lines. We caught the train up at the Navy base (Great Mistakes — errrr, Great Lakes Naval Training Station) and rode into Chicago. About the only thing I remember from the trip is it being freezing cold and snowing, walking through the city to one of those huge skyscrapers downtown, and trying not to spill my hot cocoa all over my hands as my parents speed-walked to wherever it was that we were going. It’s hard for me to keep up with people in general, what with my short legs, but it was doubly hard that day because I was mesmerized by the tall buildings. I think that was my first trip to Chicago, and probably my first experience with skyscrapers.
Of course, Chicago is dear to my heart in general. In 1994, I had just moved back to northern Virginia, and my sister was stationed at Great Lakes herself. She found an incredibly cheap ticket to fly from DC to Chicago, and I stayed with her over the weekend. She introduced me to all her friends, one of whom was a man by the name of Kurt.
Can you see where this is going?
Yes, folks, I met my husband in 1994, when I was just 15 and he was 20. I was a child, and he had hair. It all balanced out in the end.
I just spent 40 minutes trying to find the pertinent photo, of Kurt and me together on our Chicago trip, to no avail. I’ll find it when we move, I’m sure.
The Chicago trip, though — Kurt decided to take my sister and me out on the town while I was visiting. He paid for everything too, which really surprised me. Of course, this was before I really started dating, so I didn’t quite realize that boys did indeed treat girls when they were out. We took the train down to Chicago, had dinner at Ed Debevic’s, a 50s diner where the staff are rude to you in a funny way (and where I had a chocolate Coke), and then headed off to the very top of the Sears Tower.
I thought I was pretty damn cool to be just 15 years old and hanging with two 20-year-olds.
Unfortunately, I’ve only been back to Chicago once after that trip. I was competing for a scholarship at my mom’s alma mater up in Wisconsin, and so was my friend David, who lives in Chicago. He is the son of my mom’s friend from college, and so he was going for the scholarship too. He actually ended up going to that college (lucky him), while I chose to stay in state.
But that was back in 1997.
However, Chicago’s on the list of stops toward Rhode Island, and I’m very excited. I’m almost giddy with all the photographing opportunities I’m going to have!!
Back to winter — in 1992, my parents moved to Nebraska. What, in God’s name, is a Navy officer doing in Nebraska?? Don’t worry — they’re not moving ships up the Missouri River. My father instead was stationed at a joint command at Offutt Air Force Base.
His tour of duty in Nebraska was probably the absolute happiest year-and-a-half of my childhood. Nebraska is a gorgeous state with absolutely wonderful people. I miss it incredibly.
Nebraska definitely gets snow. I remember taking my brother trick-or-treating and having to trudge through the snow. We rarely got snow days, however. Once we got out of school because the wind chill was too low, down well below zero. The school administration was afraid we’d get frostbite standing out on the bus stops.
Because I can’t find the photo of Kurt and me way back in 1994, I will instead share with you this gem from 1992 or thereabouts. You can see my dad shoveling the snow as his snowblower sits idle, and my brother is supervising him. Mark would just 4 in this photo.
(You can also see the full size van which is what I learned to drive with. There’s no word for it other than “behemoth.”)
Now THAT’S what I call winter!!