I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fears; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

Rosa Parks

The blur of changes that have made up these past couple of months, although tough at times, has made it an overall wonderful time here. I’m so lucky to have family that have taken me in and have been adjusting to my changes along with me. These changes are not only the observable but the emotional and mental ones too. I’m definitely not the person I was when I left Batavia 6 years ago but I’m happy about the experiences that Reno gave me and shaped me into the woman I am now and the years to come will help me become more of the woman I want to be. There are many things happening in my head so I’ll do my best to describe it.

To begin, moving back to my childhood home in Batavia, Illinois from Reno, Nevada is a minor culture shock. My parents are here with me but we also have Airbnb guests who make it an entirely different world. Batavia is pretty different from Reno too. Reno’s slogan is the “Biggest Little City in the World” and let me tell you- IT REALLY IS and you can’t get away from it. You would work with one person who went to school with your friend’s mom who dated that person’s cousin who was in college with a person with whom you were doing community service. Yeah. And oh man, the list can go on. It got a smidge harder when you wanted to date someone. The community I found was so supportive, big and joyful and they are continuing to be so 1800 miles away. Here in Batavia, I have my family and just a couple of close friends so I’ve been trying new things to meet new people.

The thing that urged me to make my decision to move back to Illinois were the parts of hardship-emotionally and physically draining stressors that of course, humbled me, but continue to ail my existence. I thought about my move for a couple of years and it was a difficult decision. I had cried and cried about leaving my friends and the life I had made out in Nevada but realized it wasn’t helping me grow anymore. My lease was up and this guy was continuing to break my heart. Now, I know you’ll tell me, “Nancy, don’t cry over a guy” or “if he was worth it, he would’ve shown you” or even, “Why did you let that decision drive you to move back?” This was troubling and it took me a long time to acknowledge and accept it. I’ve also realized that changing environments has also helped heal my heart and my mind. I noticed it instantly. It does creep up and take me from behind sometimes then I remind myself what happened and focus my drive on my goals. Anyway this transition was much needed.

On the way here, I drove with my good friend and my cat, Oscar. Driving with Oscar wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but I don’t think I could’ve done the drive without my friend. I was incredibly nervous in the weeks prior because I had no clue what I had gotten myself into, I mean, the short ride from my old apartment to the vet wasn’t always fun but to my friend’s house was not a great start. It sounded like Oscar was going to attack me from the inside of his carrier. We ended up having Oscar roam in the car (there were only a few places for him to go because my little car was filled to the ceiling) and we had the litter box out for him behind me. I cleaned it out every time we stopped. My friend gave me CBD drops for him and I think they helped him calm down but really, the only times he seemed to be freaking out, was when he was out of the car. The first day was the hardest and the longest due to hitting a snow storm in Wyoming and because I wanted so badly to get to Denver. We had seen so many cars and semi-trucks in the ditch from the storm that after we had almost hit an antelope, we were done. “We. Are. Done!” we both said. My friend looked up pet-friendly hotels and we got to Laramie, WY just as our adrenaline was starting to go down. We decided to stop after 12 hours the next day in Des Moines, IA because why go through another snow storm? We drove the last 5 hours the third day and we were so excited to have no storms on the radar. Oscar wasn’t happy to get back in the car but he made it! He definitely is enjoying the big house and all of it’s hiding places. He’s also loving the attention from all the guests.

The Airbnb has changed the atmosphere as well. It keeps us on our toes and seems to be enriching for my parents who are both retired. It helps with their income and they thrive with people coming into their home. We used to have exchange students when I was growing up. They came with Rotary International and we loved each one but with AirBnB, they have an income. They’re also empty nesters…erm, mostly empty nesters, so they have the rooms available and they love the company. Being so close to Fermilab and Chicago, we have a wide range of people from all over the world come stay with us. A lot of them keep to themselves and others keep our company. We have several come back as eventually, they feel like family. It’s cool but I look forward to the quiet times, having our space back and more time in the bathroom!

I will end with this thought: I thought about who I was before I left for Reno and I considered how coming back to my childhood home would bring back the mentality of that person. That thought really terrified me. Of course, that’s not really how it actually is because even though I constantly second guess myself, I have been trying to find my peace with doing things that make me happy and calm but also stubbornly being the independent and strong person that I am.


The change of season has graced us with the lovely colors of autumn in Reno. Fall seems to be a shorter season here in the high desert. The barrenness of Nevada has a few places in which there are trees where you can witness the beauty of autumn: Idlewild Park is one of those places. It is a forty-nine acre park near Reno’s downtown and on the Truckee river but not only does this place have children’s areas, ponds, and a rose garden but it also has giant cottonwood trees, which happen to be my favorite part. The park during the fall is a sight to behold. The light coming through the trees show off the reds, burgundies, oranges, yellows and browns as they go dormant. We notice the roses already in their dormant state walking through the rose garden but there are few buds and blooms that have drooped from the first frost of the season. This garden now growing two-hundred kinds of roses used to be a petting zoo and before that, in the 1920’s, was a municipal zoo to house antelope, bears, pheasants, monkeys, and bison. Those weren’t the only changes! Wa-Pai-Shone or The Whispering Giant by Peter Wolf Toth is a carved statue, and was dedicated in 1986 to the three main tribes here in the area: Washoe, Paiute, and Shashone. It is carved from Douglas Fir and is seventeen feet high. There also is a Sensory Garden with five sections focused on each of the senses created by Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) and the Idlewild Train that runs four days a week. Idlewild has an interesting history and you can find more at the link here.

There were people standing in small groups all over the park and at first, I thought there might be a festival going on but my roommate says, “No, it’s probably Pokemon Go.” She was totally right, my roommate and I got to Idlewild when there was a Community day for Pokémon Go, a game where you can “Catch’em all.” While the others were playing, I made a new dog friend, naturally. Her owner was a nice lady who engaged in small talk (the weather, what her dog’s name is, what’s happening here, etc.) while she played. The sweet old dog’s name was Tarryn who also happened to be a three-legged dog. She loved the attention that we gave her. We kept strolling down the path while seeing more dogs and their owner’s with their heads in their phones. I breathed in the sweet chilly air that smelled of drying leaves and the fishiness of the river but enjoyed the walk, nonetheless. We saw the old man and his guitar playing through his songs as we kept walking along the path. He still sits next to the path with his story written on cardboard which we read through. He doesn’t look up from his music. We make a stop at The Hub to talk through our hopes and dreams as we sip our coffee and tea.

She and I make our way back to my car taking in the fresh air. We take a longer route around the children’s area where mothers and fathers are laughing with their kids.

The Man and the Guitar

As I sit across from my roommate, I eat a muffin and and drink a Chai tea latte. The ramblings of passersby come and go. Billy Cassidy’s Bye Bye Miss American Pie goes in and out of ear range with closer noises drowning it out. I’m across the street from the river at one of the best local coffee houses in Reno. An older gentleman plays his guitar for strangers as they stroll down the path. He wears a knitted beanie and a cargo jacket and has white long hair and scraggly beard. A little dog goes up to him with his owner to listen while his owner speaks to the man with the guitar. At the Hub Coffee Roasters, you have the eclectic- coffee person experience with the outdoorsy side of Reno.

Deoh comes up on the playlist going in and out as traffic comes and goes. The man and his guitar slowly progress through a song with a metronome. Birds start chirping in an unknown location amongst the color-changing trees. Deep breaths in an ever growing hot sun, I begin to relax. A man with a stereo over his shoulder skates by every so often along Riverside Drive. His music blasts in the atmosphere making people look up from their devices or conversations. I look at my roommate smiling and we chuckle, rolling our eyes, and we go back to reading and writing. Every once in a while, the smell of the river comes to my nose but goes away with the smell of roasted coffee beans.

Elton John’s Tiny Dancer plays with gusto and a soft wind goes through the trees. Cars drive by trying to go the speed limit as the driver glances out to the outdoor patio to see if they know anyone. New people roll up on their bikes to get a treat.

The man and his guitar starts to play American theme songs such as America, the Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner. He flows into each one seamlessly. Journey comes on at the Hub mixing with the laughter and chatter of the tables around us. A couple with a baby and a dog speak with a realtor next to us. Smells of people’s cologne and perfume waft near my nose with every rush of breeze.

As you walk into the Hub, you see a small counter with an espresso machine, the register, and a clear display case for baked goods. The three baristas dance around each other to complete customer’s orders. The shorter menu also makes for a great experience so you don’t get the overwhelming sensation you get at Starbucks.

Looking up from my writing, I notice new people and their dogs walk by, a familiar female runner running back to where she came. The sun going behind the building which makes it chilly. It doesn’t make a difference in the atmosphere around me. The man and his guitar keeps playing, runners keep running, and the Hub keeps roasting coffee beans.