1. My landlord is taking his sweet time in turning on my cooking gas, so I am oven-less for another week. Ergo, I have been brainstorming meals that do not require any heat. Perhaps this will be the week when I finally become a raw vegan like I've always dreamed of! Perhaps not.
Today I thought of an idea--hummus and pita!--my staple in the last two years of college. So I schlepped all the way over to Salam ("peace" in Arabic), my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago. It's a tiny Palestinian dive restaurant smelling of oil and chickpeas with sweaty guys behind a counter displaying piles of pale pink unidentifiable meat. And I love it. And their hummus is delightful beyond belief. Beyond what you can believe delightful to be. I lie not.
In her homily this morning, Sarah discussed ideas of home and what home can mean for different people, and all the tiny constituents which make home so home-ish--the smells, the feelings, the people. And walking through Albany Park again felt so undeniably home-y. I guess I didn't realize that when I call Chicago "home," I am thinking of Albany Park. I am thinking of falafel fresh out of the oil vat, Ecuadorian bachata blaring as I walk to the El station, Korean newspaper stands and all the baklava bakeries I could ever want--Al-Khaymeh, Holy Land Sweets, Jaafer Sweets, Nazareth Sweets.
My neighbors remembered me: Nacho the pita-baking Mexican asked how I had been--I haven't seen this guy in over a year but he remembers my name; his hair has grown. Sayyid from Salam still knows my order (small hummus, extra khubz--"pita") and gave me free falafel; "My boss doesn't know" he whispered with a wink. The couple who owns that wild Latin Catholic-magic store with all the saint statues were still watching the same telenovela they were watching last time I came in months ago, and helped me find a Virgen de Guadalupe candle for my mantle.
Now I won't be taking out hummus and shwarma but rather coconut curry, and Ethiopian dishes I have yet to learn how to pronounce. I love my new neighborhood and I can't wait until I can claim it as my home--have MY coffee shop, MY grocery store, MY Indian place (there are literally dozens to choose from)--but going "home" to crinkly rusty old Albany Park is so, so sweet. As is this baklava from Jaafer Sweets I am devouring like it's my last meal.
2. Church felt joyful today. And I felt joyful on a post-church excursion to Tyler and Kelli's to see their new dining room painted dreamsicle orange with light grey trim. "Whaaaa?" you say. But it works, and beautifully. They let me borrow The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I fully expect to change my life, and gave me back my beloved Book of Common Prayer which already changed my life a few years ago.
3. Barah Sauer drove me home last night, a huge relief from the otherwise 2.5 buses I would have had to take at 1:46am. She laughed at me and I laughed at myself and we listened to Regina Spektor really loudly and sang really loudly and everything about it was cherished.