Monday, January 15, 2007

Back in DeKalb


Downtown DeKalb looked the same but different when I saw it again after a month away. This has happened to me at other familiar locations, like my parent's. I remember once during adolescence I took a long nap on when I woke up my bedroom seemed like a different place. At the time, I blamed this change of vision on the early evening light.


But I have a new theory. Displacement and return, whether it be from a month-long trip or a deep sleep, causes the eye to find different points of focus. In familiar surroundings, the eye develops subconscious patterns of seeing. Vision is limited, for concentration or sanity, to this narrow point-of-view. Reality is too much to take on full bore.


But displacement knocks those patterns out of whack. And that's why downtown DeKalb looked so different. And in some larger, cheese-bally sense, that's why travel/displacement is so good for the soul. It cultivates new ways of seeing. It breaks the imagination free from its self-imposed fetters.


Of course, the old patterns re-emerge, and it's as if the fleeting newfound way of seeing was an illusion. I've attempted to return back to the newfound perspective, and can, but not quite, because my seeing is really a hybrid of memories of the new vision laid over the old, natural patterns.


The longer one is displaced, the longer the newfound vision remains. When I toured the hallways of my junior high school after 15 years, the hallway looked different than I remembered, even though the hallways were the same. And now, when I think of junior high school, the vision of the school that comes to mind is the most recent.


Well, she-oot. I didn't come on here to wax on ad nauseum. But I did anyhoo, and that's all right.


Its been a busy return.


I got back to DeKalb at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night. Esther and Jon picked me up at the Elburn station. Jon slept the entire time, so he didn't really see me until the following evening.


Friday was busy all day at NIU in meetings for first-year composition and my ILAS 401 teaching observation class. That night Esther and Jon joined me at Kay Ostwald's for a potluck dinner. I played the Nintendo Wii for the first time, banged my hand on a hanging light and lost the controller when it flew out of my hands behind a bookshelf. Luckily, nothing broken or injured.


Jon even tried his hand at it, but he tried to eat the controller.


At first, Jon acted like he didn't know me. He buried his face in his mother's legs and ventured out a few steps before coming back. Jon is still a social creature, but is warier now in his curiosity.


Saturday I spent at my parent's with Jon and Esther. Aunts and uncles Jim and Margaret, and Burt and Nancy, along with my brother Mike, came down for a big dinner to celebrate Jon's first birthday. Jon loved the cake! It was his first dessert and he tore into it with abandon. He also got a taste of his first sweetened drink (lemonade) and begged for more. He asks for more by going "ooh-ooh" and reaches out with clutching hands.


Jon sat in the same high chair and in the same spot in the kitchen that I sat when my first birthday pictures were taken. I'm not sure if Mom planned it that way.


Sunday laundry, cooking, cleaning the apartment, finally unpacked.


Now I'm in the office (The Bay) at Reavis Hall, listening to Pandora, looking at trip pictures, most seen for the first time on the bigger screen.


I will post my journals here and at www.trailjournals.com/raru


Look for a Top 25 pictures spread here.


I took almost 1,000 photos and don't have the time to post them all.


It was a good trip. I'm refreshed and ready to fight the good fight.

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