Leaving town for any length of time is always a kind of strange feeling. Not at first, I suppose, but I can remember being a kid and taking in all the familiar sights of our town as we got closer and closer to the house upon returning from a family vacation. I recall always being struck with a bizarre (albeit profoundly obvious) realization that everything back home had gone on completely unabated in my absence.
I'm at my friends' apartment in Chicago. This is the last time I will be in this building (as far as I know, at least). For the past three years, some good friends of mine have lived in the second and third floors of a building on the north side of Chicago, and they're moving out in a week. I'm leaving for Germany this afternoon. By the time I get back, a going away party will have come and gone, bags and boxes and backseats will be packed up and emptied elsewhere, and this apartment will be occupied by a bunch of strangers.