July 4: Woah, Nelly!

The Fourth of July is usually a fun holiday with grilling and fireworks. We missed the actual fireworks in Chicago on the third so already we were behind. Spoiler alert: we didn’t grill either.

We did get to wake up to some warm weather, excitement for the new day, and prepped for our venture back into Chicago. We invited regional folks to join us for an informal hang out near McCormick Place and were joined by Morgan Phillips-Spotts ’09, Bethel Shekour ’19, Stephanie Cedillo ’18, Borivoje Vitezovic ’20, Neftaly Lara ’19, and Chrisana Hill ’06. We ran a little late and missed another alum (sorry Jules Quinlan ’63!), but look forward to more Williams people being together. 

In any case, our small Williams collective was no less thoughtful in conversation and connection. At the heart of Ephs on the Mooove, we’ve wanted to showcase alumni off the beaten path who might not be “traditional success stories.” We often hear the narrative of those who become doctors or CEOs or fund managers, and it’s easy to get lost in those stories. What we’ve seen and heard across this journey is that people are doing amazing things even on a small scale and have taken their own paths to get there at their own pace. It’s easy to say “Be proud of where you are!”  but much harder to internalize given an individual's history, space, experiences. We hope some of the stories we share will resonate and let you know that your work, volunteerism, schooling, home keeping, gap time, transitioning, and every other life phase are meaningful to you and those around you. It was a true delight to see some other Ephs, and we are lucky to have created and shared space with them. Thanks for your openness! We were sad we split up, but look forward to seeing you all again soon! Little did we know their departure would begin a long afternoon…

We returned to find that Nelly had gotten sick. And by that we mean it had a pretty bad flat. This was unwelcome as Mike planned to meet a friend in town. But also because we’ve grown attached to Nelly and were sad about not wanting to make anything worse. Remember how we mentioned the Fourth? That made it worse. We cannot recommend car troubles on a holiday. 

The company we set up roadside assistance with was apparently tapped out, so we weren’t getting help from them. Rough start. Then, we figured we could put on the spare and get to the campground. An RVer nearby kindly loaned us his jack. Shame we didn’t have the right size tool for the bolts on the spare. That stung. Out of real options, we chose to get to a nearby gas station, fill up on air, and travel gas station by gas station to our campground 60 miles away. Thankfully someone with their own car troubles recommended a local tire shop that would be able to help us out. Word of mouth still has a lot of power and we were able to get checked. Turned out it was a bad valve! 

Juan then tried to leave the garage by doing the opposite of every step Mike thought he’d do, including backing up into a significant, two-laned street with several employees questioning the tactic. He even wanted Mike to stand in the middle of the road to help guide him as if traffic didn’t exist and pressed on with the back up method as opposed to turning around like a normal person. Hey, we made it fam. 

To celebrate, we treated ourselves to Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. We couldn’t come to a consensus winner, but they were delicious. Slowly we journeyed back to our campground recounting the day’s (mis)adventures. Close to our site, we found a Culver’s, spoken of highly in Milwaukee for their fried cheese curds. Naturally we stopped, enjoyed some more cheese to round out the day, and saw some fireworks along the way. We all earned our rest for the night and hope you and yours were safe, healthy, and happy. 

Fun fact: firework colors are dictated by the presence of different elements. According to the Smithsonian: Strontium and lithium compounds produce deep reds; copper produces blues; titanium and magnesium burn silver or white; calcium creates an orange color; sodium produces yellow pyrotechnics; and finally, barium burns green.


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