Thoughts of "home" are the subjects of songs, stories, and many "sappy" holiday movies. When I lived in Thailand, many people asked me if I was "homesick" or thinking of "home". I found these questions confusing as I thought of Thailand as my home when I lived there and never longed to be somewhere else. I did have the strange feeling of being homesick for Thailand during my brief travels away from Thailand while I lived there, but this was unusual for me and it ended when I came back to the States in 2008.
One thing that I did long for quite often were the foods that can only be found in the Chicago area. At the top of my list were things like deep dish pizza, gyros, and Italian beef sandwiches. I could easily remember where the "best" of all these foods were to be found. So naturally when we found ourselves driving to Waukegan to visit my family, I planned out the route to take in one of my old favorites. I tried to tease and tempt DannyLee as we drove with details on the bread, cheese and red sauce that made these sandwiches more than memorable. They're an experience not to be missed! It helped a little to distract him from the horrible traffic and road construction that hindered us at every turn.
Finally, we found ourselves at this little spot on the northside of Libertyville on Rt. 21, Slot's Hots. This has always been one of my favorite places to grab an Italian beef with cheese and red sauce and I could only hope and pray as we drove that it was still there and still good. My hopes were not disappointed as we feasted on sandwiches that were just as wonderful as I remembered them. DannyLee forgave me for torturing him and enjoyed this special treat with me.
Afterwards, we headed north to Gurnee to take a short trip down "Memory Lane" and visit my house and church from my pre-Thailand life. This proved to be a bit more of a challenge than getting to Libertyville had been. The main roads were all under construction and my memory blurred with every detour. I couldn't find my old house! We drove around and around and around and slowly it started to come back to me. Finally we found it and the owner was sitting out front having a garage sale. We greeted him and his family and I told him my little part of his house's history. He told me all that had transpired since I left and we once again headed north to see the little church that held a special place in my life.
As we neared the church, we saw a "church sale" sign on the corner. That helped me to know I was on the right street. As we drove past the church, I noted with great surprise the name that was hanging in the front window of the house - Oracio's. I wondered why my old pastor's name was hanging there as he and his family had moved to Ohio while I was in Thailand. We pulled into the parking lot and I was staring at the people outside trying to puzzle this out when I saw the Pastor's wife, Ruth. I leapt out of the truck yelling like a crazy person. There was excitement all around as their story unfolded for I never expected to find them back in IL. I didn't even dare hope that I would get to see them again and yet here we all were back together in this little place. As we filled in the blanks in our stories, our hearts were lifted with joy at this special turn of events that only HE could have orchestrated in this place.