Peoria Post Pandemic

This post, much like my life right now, is a bit scattered. Please enjoy this stream of consciousness covering my moving and a family visit. 🙂

After 18 months, I can breathe.  I can walk into a store without worrying about getting the plague.  I can eat at a restaurant without wearing a mask.  I can visit a museum and movie theater.  All this freedom aligned well with my recent move to Peoria, IL.  The city itself is a bit different than my old location.  Peoria has a river flowing through it, for one.  There is a skyline from the interstate that really says, “This is a city!”  The downtown is full of cute little restaurants, shops, and a few museums.  Less than 10 minutes from this magical place is my new residence.  It is tucked into a neighborhood just off the interstate.  It is quiet, but still close to all the shopping I could ever handle.  My unit boasts more than 200 additional square feet configured into a 3-bedroom home.  It is a ground-floor unit, so there is no sound of crashing water from an upstairs neighbor.  There are no doors slamming that make the wall shake.  There are not eight A/C compressors outside my window to keep me up at night. 

The most important feature of this place is having a dedicated room for my work computer and hardware.  That was the thing that bothered me from the start of the pandemic.  I was very lucky to be able to work from home, but now that I have a place to work without distractions.  The last room has been declared the reading/writing room.  I have put my bookshelves in and this writing computer.  I will purchase a proper office chair for the computer area and figure out where to relax and read.  I can’t wait to sneak in here after dinner and just read for a bit.  I have been working on reading on a more consistent basis this year and I need to continue.   

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, my family came for a visit just a few days ago.  My parents and sister flew in to explore the new city with me.  We discovered the small city has plenty to offer.  We started with the Peoria Riverfront Museum.  The main exhibit was all about the T-Rex.  They even had the most recent models that included fur on the upper body.  I have always loved to learn, so this was a great way to jump-start my experience.  We attended a wonderful show at the Planetarium and explored the fascinating display of local African American history.  The next room had fine art and antique furniture.  I particularly enjoyed the architect’s table from the 17th century.  This would have been the precursor to the drafting table.  My grandfather on my dad’s side was a drafter for many years during his career.  My impression is that I get my eye for design from him.  

We also had the opportunity to travel back to Bloomington so I could show the parents one of the most interesting features of being a corporate employee: State Farm Park.  This massive park contains tennis courts, beach volleyball, basketball, frisbee golf, miniature golf, and a water park.  There are open fields to run around and covered picnic areas that can be used for personal or business events.  My favorite part is the main sidewalk.  There is a section that has dedications and quotes from previous CEOs and other major figures of the company.  It is special to me because that is what really locked in my decision to move here.  I wanted to stay with the company, but after experiencing the park and the people here, I was convinced that this was the right decision.   

Later that day when I was unpacking, I came across old yearbooks from high school and a set of silly photos from when I was a Resident Assistant in college.  I was reminded that I was a young person growing up, not that long ago.  The yearbooks have these inspirational messages from my friends, classmates, and teachers.  I don’t miss high school.  Let’s be clear.  However, those messages were a reminder that made an impact on all those people.  Some of the words were really making fun of preparedness or studiousness, but it showed me that I would always help people.  A lot of times, I helped people that really didn’t deserve it.  My “less than stellar” college internship that led me on a different path than I first chose had me in a funk for a while.  I found State Farm after this and never looked back.  Don’t misunderstand, I used some of the skills I learned and have always been happy to teach and train others.  I still enjoy helping people in my work and by volunteering.   

The next big personal life event might be finding someone special to marry.  My parents still have not given up hope on that front.  Even in their short visit here, they were on the lookout.  Even admitting that to the world seems strange, but this is where I’m at in my life.  My sister is getting married next year, so she “beat” me to that one, I guess.  hehe. 

I was happy to see children out on their summer vacation were at both places we visited during the visit.  It has been several years since I worked with children and at least 18 months since I had even seen one.  My parents often comment how I would be a good father.  I like to remind them that they are skipping a few steps.  It’s no secret that I will follow the rather traditional path to marriage and fatherhood. 😊  

In between these deep conversations about my future, we ate at some excellent restaurants in the area.  These included some local places and more familiar regional favorites.  In no particular order:  Logan’s Roadhouse, Thyme Kitchen, Mission BBQ, CoreLife Eatery, Avanti’s, and Rhythm Kitchen.  Each place had its own theme and feel.  I am excited to go back with the new friends that I will make and enjoy a good time. 

My sister made a comment on her first night here: “This place really seems to fit your personality…”  I believe she is correct.  I hope to remain here for a while, but no one can predict the future.  Change is the only Constant.  I truly hope this post finds you well.  If not, I am praying for you.  Please reach out with your stories of excitement or struggle! 

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