At one point in my young life my family moved every couple of years, a natural byproduct of my father's employment in network television news, a field where climbing the ladder generally means being sent from one miserable assignment to the next, ostensibly to hone your skills but more likely to see if you've got the stomach for what is surely one of the harshest careers out there. One such move landed us in Highland Park, Illinois, a place that is, like Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. I don't remember all that much about Highland Park. We lived on Summit Avenue, my best friends were Joey Bernardi and Herman Moriano (both from the wrong side of the tracks town of Highwood), and somewhere across those tracks was an abandoned house that, in my memory, had an inexhaustible supply of windows to break with rocks. Yet even those meager memories, dim and distant as they are, are a heck of a lot more compelling than anything the current town of Napervile has to offer.
I have now been to Naperville at least a half dozen times, and I can not name a single distinguishing feature or identifiable landmark. In fact, so indistinguishable is Naperville's seemingly endless succession of strip malls from those encountered in any other sprawlurb I've ever visited that it is entirely possible that, like the Apollo 11 astronauts, I've never actually made the trip. And while the thought of being the victim of such a hoax might be galling to some, when confronted with the possibility that I have never actually seen the real Naperville I can only say, would that it were so. But no, I have been there, not once but twice thrice, and like Native Americans who believed that still pictures took a piece of their souls along with the image, I feel somehow lessened for the experience. And though it's true that the time spent in that vacuous void is a chunk of my life I'll never get back, I can temper the pain of that realization somewhat by vowing never to return. So it is perhaps the first positive development in the farewell tour of glory gone awry that I can safely say that although a poor decision made in haste has forestalled my farewell to ultimate, a wise decision made with certainty has precipitated my farewell to Naperville, and not a moment too soon. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
When last we left off I was lugging Bliss' bag around while she tried in vain to lead us from the Midway Airport reantal counter to our car. To say that Bliss is directionally challenged is putting it mildly, and circumstances are not improved by another of her odd little quirks, an inability (or unwillingness) to listen to, hear, or remember spoken directions when they're given to her. Add to that her refusal to even look at a map, insistence on sitting in the co-pilot's seat, and the delight she takes in pointing out every wrong turn the driver makes, and you begin to get a picture of what I was in for as I settled into the driver's seat of our rented Chevy Impala for the drive to Naperville. Oh yeah, and I wasn't wearing my contacts, which means I couldn't read a sign until I was so close as to render its information useless. Like I said, good times.
Remarkably, finding the hotel was really quite easy, after I had made no fewer than three wrong turns within a mile of the airport, each met with a smugly satisfied "Good job" from my altogether useless co-pilot. We pulled into the Holiday Inn sometime after midnight, and the parking lot was crawling with ulti players tossing the bee. I parked as far away as I possibly could and entered through the side door. Then came the best part about playing coed, and what is at least for now the absolute high point of my farewell tour; I was sharing a room with three women. How cool is that?
Before you let your minds run away with you, let me make it clear that this is not about hooking up. Rooming with women means the room smells nicer, stays cleaner, and every waking moment won't be accompanied by the SportsCenter soundtrack. It also means that someone will probably bring you coffee in the morning, and when you're winding down in the evening by doing some quiet reading, there's a good chance someone will be doing something craftsy across the room. In truth, it's not like being at an ultimate tournament at all, except for two telling factors.
First, there's still a good chance that your restful night's slumber will be all but ruined by snoring so loud you'd swear it came out of a 300 pound longshoreman. Second, you still need to get into the bathroom first or not at all after breakfast. Wives and girlfriends swear their husbands and boyfriends to secrecy on this one, but seeing as how I'm neither I can tell you without equivocation that women lie, and their shit really doesn't smell like flowers.