Recently, I took a much-needed-ladies-only trip to Chicago with my mother and big sister Jennifer. It was a typical fall weekend, mostly sunny, cool, a little bit of rain and clouds, and the first splash of color on the trees.
Two things happened that weekend: I grew closer to the women in my family AND I fell in love with the city once again.
As a girl who grew up out in a pocket of woods out in the Midwest, I am surprised at how much I’ve grown to LOVE the city. As a family, we used to visit Chicago quite a bit. It held a special place in my parents’ heart as their honeymoon destination, and as kids, my brothers and I totally drooled as we jumped from museum to museum. We were fascinated. Now as an adult, the city fascinates me for different reasons.
Friday evening, we pulled into Chicago about 3 p.m., and rang in our trip by blaring Black-Eyed Peas from the iPod dock and jumping around dancing on our hotel beds. You would have never guessed our ages were 26, 36, and 56…we were probably acting closer to 2, 3, and 5.
Once we had freshened up, eliminating all hints of our sweaty dance routine, we headed to the Grand Lux for dinner. Our table was right by the window and overlooked the city in all its wet-in-the-rain glitter. I would describe the food as delicious comfort food…comfort food prepared in such a way that didn’t make you feel guilty for ordering comfort food at a fancy restaurant.
That evening we saw the Broadway show Jersey Boys. While good, I think the crowd was a little comatose. Several times, I know they were supposed to laugh, and they didn’t catch on. The singing along was fabulous, however, since we grew up listing to oldies. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was always a favorite.
Saturday was our typical Chicago shopping day. I had texted a very old friend the night before to see if she wanted to meet early for breakfast. I am definitely a morning person, and being up and around the city early on a Saturday was something I had not experienced before. The sun was out, the air was cold, and Katie and I had so much catching up to do (I had not spoken with her since my wedding) that after we had breakfast at the Yolk (highly recommend this as a breakfast venue in Chicago), we strolled around the park overlooking Lake Michigan, coffee in hand and talking so fast that passersby probably thought we are on something slightly more illegal than coffee. But me and Katie- yeah, we both knew what the other was sayin’.
We zipped over to our hotel in Katie’s mini-cooper and picked up Mom and Jenn, first making sure my sister’s 5’11” frame could fit. She was very worried about this. But Katie’s hubby is 6’3″ so we managed. We were dropped off at Milennium Park for the rest of the day.
The rest of the trip involved much shopping, eating, laughing, and hailing cabs.I won’t bore you with the details. But as I go back and click through my photos, it’s funny to know that I crave to live in the city sometimes. I love the buildings, the energy, the availability of people, places, and things.
But I am mainly fascinated with the city now because you have the richest sampling of people in cities. You have the rich, the poor, the lonely, the full, the empty, the entertained, the bored, the employed, the unemployed, and on and on and on. They are all walking the same sidewalk and following the same traffic signals as you and riding the same buses and subways. You can people-watch and NEVER get bored. Most of them are surprisingly friendly. And cab drivers always end up fascinating…for me anyways. I’ve met cab drivers who ran from the buildings on 9/11, lost their job in China so now they drive a cab, have kids in Africa, are planning to go back to school in Switzerland…and the list goes on.
And to think, every single person was made a certain way, for a certain reason. God knows each one by heart. Their hopes, fears, pasts, futures, stories, secrets. Everything. Kind of makes the world seem a little smaller, maybe? Makes all those people a little less intimidating, a little more inviting. And a little easier to love.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.