Monday, November 27, 2017

Road Trip Romance, Surviving Chicago

I'm busy to a level of stupidity. It's self-inflicted. Don't feel sorry for me. But it does drag me down, leaves me no time to write my life story for you fine, dedicated blog readers, and has me falling asleep when my husband and I try to watch a show together at the end of the day. I drink coffee at 9 p.m. I don't know that I'm doing the best things for my body.

But...

selfies in ChicagoI'm doing great things for that huge piece of myself that needs to be working away at the little dent I'm trying to leave on the world. That matters. And I'm hugely thankful to be surrounded by people that cheer me on...even if I can't make it through an episode of Sherlock. (Seriously BBC, hour-and-a-half episodes ARE NOT viewer friendly!)

In all the busyness, in the hustle and bustle and the delicate balance of deadlines and chasing dreams, there HAS to be room for adventure. Because without adventure life is just one long, strained workday...

As our nineteenth anniversary approached, my husband and I tried to remember when we'd last been away without the children, without an added obligation that meant it wasn't about us, it was about The Thing We Had To Do. We couldn't really remember.

There was this one time when Noa was pretty little that we went to Niagara Falls...

Noa was little a gazillion years ago.

Or there was that time we went to Vegas...but that was so he could play pool...

So it was time we went away. Just to be together. Just to take a break from being mom and dad; to remind ourselves that we like each other for the people we are, not the laundry we (I) fold.

It's not like we have a bunch of rainy day money squirreled away so we could hop a plane to Europe on a whim. (Go buy my book and I'll be 0.007% closer to that goal!😜 ) We had to choose somewhere we could drive to — but far enough to feel like we really got away.

For reasons that now escape me, it came down to a choice between Chicago and Montreal. And what a choice! Get murdered in Chicago, or see strippers in Montreal. I'd had my fill of nearly naked ladies in Vegas, so really, the choice was easy.

"Why Chicago?" It's what everyone asked. "Do you want to die?"

"Music. Architecture. Food."

the Chicago Theatre
I'm not interested in getting stabbed, but I am good at planning trips and educating myself on what neighborhoods to stay away from. #ChicagoWins

It took us nearly ten hours to get there. Ten hours one way in a little car is a good test on how much you like each other. I didn't really think about that until we got back and a co-worker asked how much we fought.

"Fought? Why would we fight?"

I guess we're abnormal...?

We filled the time by singing along with the radio, discussing the merits of Hell and Brimstone billboards standing right beside Biggest Adult Store In The Country billboards, lamenting the sad hunters back home (your empty scopes are a direct result of the deer massacre that is Highway 69!), and judging that lady in Indiana who ordered a seven-by-seven ahead of me — that's seven creams and seven sugars! When I ordered my coffee with milk the poor counter girl looked at me like I was an alien, then she gave me a complimentary carton of milk because "we don't do that."

I had a list of sights I wanted to see and I booked our hotel within walking distance of almost all of them. We had three nights and two days to do the city. It would have been wonderful to have had more time, but we made the best of it, hitting blues clubs, iconic landmarks, pizza (of course!), and a piano bar. We even took a little jaunt outside the city to see the impressive, and sadly abandoned, Joliet Prison (site of the first season of Prison Break and such films as Blues Brothers and Natural Born Killers).

old Joliet Prison


I don't know how to choose a favourite place or moment. It was all a blur of exploration and sore-footed excitement. I loved how many comments we got about our plaid coats. "Did you guys plan that?" and "You match! That's cute!"

Nineteen years of marriage and we're still adorable!

Our hotel was the cheapest one I could find. That's the kind of princess I am. And then I finagled us a $25 discount AND an upgrade to a suite. I had very low expectations for our room, but it was perfect! The hotel was old and charming, with original wooden trim and old paned windows that let in the cold air, and a king-sized bed I wish we could have fit inside our little Sonic to bring home with us. The doors were solid core panels and the pipes were exposed. It reminded me of sleeping over in my grandmother's farm house. It was made for me.

The Bean, Chicago
We ate a lot. Walked a lot. Laughed a lot. We drank bad coffee and tipped the piano player at The Zebra Lounge. We tried okra and catfish for the first time. We stood on the streets where Ernest Hemingway stood and we got scared under an overpass where homeless people slept. We went to Wrigley Field and The House of Blues. We explored all nine floors of the most amazing library I've ever been in. We tasted the pizza and agree that it's worth it. We paid $130US in parking and don't feel bad about it. We bought zero souvenirs and don't feel bad about that either.

enjoying lunch at Aurelio's Pizza in Chicago

It was a brilliant trip with the perfect companion. That old cliché is true: every day is an adventure when I spend it with you.

But once in a while, it's great to leave normal life at home, and hit the road for something brand new.

Surviving Chicago wasn't hard. Sure, it was a little unsettling that every building had a No Guns sign, and then there was that time we saw a body being pulled from the water...oh, and the loud BANGS outside our hotel that were probably just dumpster lids being slammed...

But still...we were safe, the city is beautiful, and the people were wonderfully friendly. Chicago gets a gold star and an A+ in my book.



[You can view my full Chicago album on Facebook]

 
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