Monday, September 24, 2012

Adjusting to the City

The following is a reflection written by Livia Spilotro, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

Chicago - The Windy City. No, friends, they aren’t kidding! From day one I’ve been battling the breezes as they come across Lake Michigan, attempting and failing over and over again to maintain some sort of composure to my hairstyle. Don’t worry—I’ve realized the futility of this cause and have moved my focus to bigger and better things, such as figuring out the lovely CTA system. Which color of the rainbow runs north and south? That would be Red. What about east and west? Well, that depends on how far you want to go!  What time do the trains stop running? The answer to that question has always been the cause of a comical ending to the night. And don’t even get me started on the Loop! On the map it looks like a box of Lucky Charms gone wrong, right in the center of downtown, and it’s always undergoing some sort of face lift in one place or another.

On the home front, I’m still adjusting to community life. Who’s cooking? What time is dinner? Better yet, what IS dinner? Due to the amount of vegetarians and lactose intolerance in my house, I think I’m slowly becoming vegan. I DEFINITELY consider this to be an adjustment. To be sure, there are other questions. Who’s leading prayer night? Where is the Sentra parked this time? Where is Community Night this week? Who’s driving? Did you grab the directions? Lord knows we’re still quite likely to get lost in this grand city from time to time. Besides the “daily grind” tasks of community life, getting to know my housemates and recognizing all of our unique quirks has proven to be a daily adventure that usually ends in laughter and a deeper understanding of each other. Even how I communicate with my loved ones back home has been an adjustment. Those who I used to see and talk to daily are now thousands of miles away, and I must say that although the distance is a force to be reckoned with, the wonders of technology have definitely proved to be the remedy for the occasional pang of homesickness.

It’s true - these are just a handful of some of the adjustments and changes of lifestyle I’m experiencing as I’m nearing the end of my second month here in the Amate House program. Although my mind is constantly flooded with questions, and my ears are filled with the sounds of Spanish, and the trains running by the house like clockwork shake my bed while I try to sleep, I can’t help but love this new life of mine. I’m slowly learning that this “adjusting” business isn’t going to happen in a day - nor should it. I’m accepting the fact that I will probably continue to find new ways to get home by getting a little lost at first. I’m also warming up to the idea that I will most likely be freezing my butt off for the next, oh, five or six months, because the lowest temperature this Texas girl is used to during an average Texas wintertime is only 40 degrees...Which, by the way, is the predicted low temperature for this upcoming weekend. And yes, it’s only September.

Here’s the beautiful thing - every day I’m learning something new. Whether it’s about what this city has to offer, or something new about my housemates,  or experiencing an epiphany about who I am and what I believe, this adjustment - although sometimes awkward and painful - is an adjustment that is helping me to grow and appreciate where I am and who I am. Thank God I have another eight months of this experience to continue exploring this Windy City that I’m excited to call home.