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Martha's big adventure - Hello Chicago - Martha Randolph Carr

This is Part Four of my missives about my ongoing, unusual homeless adventure during the Great Recession. Landed in Chicago at Midway Airport on Monday, the first of June, which was also Marilyn Monroe's and my mother, Tina's, 83rd birthday.

They were born on the same day, which has always given my mother's birthday a little added something. Mom is now ensconced in Florida with my oldest sister, Diana, the doctor, as I have always thought of her.

My parents were in Florida visiting Diana when Dad suddenly passed away in 2005, and after that, Mom refused to come back to the house in Virginia at all. Instead, the house was sold and everything was put in storage, where it all still sits. Perhaps, this is becoming a family tradition. I kind of hope not.

My things are still in storage back in the Bronx, as reported here earlier, but the rent is paid through the summer.

I took that action after arriving to move in and watching some men go through a few boxes they purchased at auction that day. Someone didn't pay their rent and all of their worldly possessions were sold. The two men looked like kids hoping for a Wii on Christmas day, but finding out it was socks.

They looked abject as they casually tossed items into a dumpster. Items someone else had bothered to box up and move across town and pay rent for at least a little while.

For now, I am taking the whole address thing day by day, and it's working out. The new book assignment that has elements of long travel both in and out of the U.S. has made moving around between sublets or borrowed couches the smarter choice for the summer.

I've been remarkably calm when showing up at each new place as I'm given the quick tour of towels, coffee maker and my small spot of the moment. This can't be normal.

That is my overwhelming thought for the past few days. Overwhelming from a standpoint that the thought rides just below the surface of every other thought and overwhelming in a panicky way when looked at a little too closely.

My suburban brain, which is my reset even though I gravitate toward actually living in cities, keeps hiccupping and trying to get confirmation about what address belongs to me. For important documents or anything remotely long-term, I've been handing over my son's address, who is also in Chicago.

That is another weird aspect. Louie, who is 21 and has seen his life chronicled by me from the start, has the grownup life with a place, a job to head to every morning, a network of friends and his 49-year-old mother is figuring things out.

Every time I think about that one, I remember just how many of my age group is in the same boat, and an eerie feeling comes over me at the thought of so many middle-aged people loose in America. Strange things are bound to come out of it all.

Most of us are from the tail end of the Baby Boomer Generation and we have consistently thought we are all that. As we've aged, we've changed the rules willy-nilly about what's hot, so that we're still represented. We have more easily thrown our support behind that notion than behind anything to do with politics, the ecology and, till recently, the economy. I wholeheartedly support these efforts as worthy of our attention.

That probably means that a lot of books, TV shows and movies will start to pop up depicting us as latter-day Kerouac's who were brave enough to set out for a new adventure. Details such as sitting in an empty room for a month while we tried to figure out what to do next will be left out.

We will be decisive, brave and well-dressed. We will also be portrayed by anyone on Desperate Housewives so that we can once again convince ourselves that our bellies are flat and our upper arms don't wave goodbye every time we lift an arm. This is part of our charm. More adventures to follow, at some point with my own address.

If you'd like to get involved in the 2009 America Challenge to raise funds for community-based charities, e-mail me at Martha@CagleCartoons.com, for more information. Together, we're going to build stronger communities and empower ourselves.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.