Mike Thvedt: freelancer, vagabond.


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Three weeks and two days ago, I turned in my notice at my work with no plans going forward. The idea was to work on programming projects, travel, and possibly other things, in whatever proportion turns out to be appropriate. I dreamed of getting into the car, stepping on the gas, and driving wherever suited my fancy.

Friday was my last day. The following few days were spent straight on packing and moving my stuff into storage. It’s astonishing how much junk there can be in a small apartment. In my trunk is a giant canvas duffel bag–42 inches long, I think–full of stuff that I didn’t pack for some reason. I could barely lift it into my car. Based on my experience lifting heavy things, I estimate it weighs 100-125 pounds. How do I fill a duffel bag with 100-125 pounds of stuff? That is a question I asked myself as I attempted it to lift it into my trunk. I dubbed it the Big Bag of Crap.

After spending Monday and Tuesday entirely on packing and moving, with only a few hours’ nap early Tuesday morning, I got in the car and drove wherever suited my fancy. My joints were aching and I was exhausted. What suited my fancy was a king bed at the Sheraton by the mouth of the river. Upon arrival, I ordered room service then slept for 13 hours. I felt pretty lame, but one of my friends found this to be “baller”. I didn’t tell him it was paid for with miles, enjoying the illusion.

I wandered Streeterville the next morning. Chicago is beautiful but I had spent the last few years taking it for granted. The riverwalk is gorgeous. There are excellent open spaces all about the NBC building, east of the Michigan Ave. bridge. Directly below them are roads. During the urban renewal of downtown Chicago, city planners took the opportunity to build a multi-layer city, streets and pedestrians on top, service areas below. East of Michigan Avenue, where much of the redevelopment took place, the roads and sidewalks taking you up and down this maze, sometimes feeling like a giant M. C. Escher painting. From certain spots along the river, you can see the multi-layer streets exposed and visible, two or three layers of roads and walkways snaking up and down.

I remember the days we–me and college friends–would go out for walks on the town, wondering and wandering and talking and taking the city in. Nowdays, everyone is always doing something and going somewhere. We never just wander. That morning everyone downtown was hurrying along, except me. Sometimes it’s better to have nowhere to go.