Well, we survived a brief visit to Chicago. Words chosen carefully.
“Visit” because we frankly feel more at home now in the bus. At least the first several nights at our apartment in Chicago, I woke up in the middle of the night with that disoriented feeling of not being sure where the bathroom was. And, when our FANTASTIC tenants on the floor above walked around at 3:00 AM (they have a new baby), I remember wondering what kind of critter was on top of the bus. This disorientation reminded me very much of our international travels over the years, where the same confusion happens in the third hotel of a trip.
I will say, however, that our Chicago “Hotel” has a KICK-ASS shower…one I can fully stand up within, and where the water pressure and volume are AWESOME. Possibly the best “Hotel” ever…and we have stayed in quite a few!
“Survived” because wherever we go on our travels, people always ask us about the well-publicized violence in our favorite US city. When we disclose that we call Chicago “home,” they want to see pictures of our concrete bunker, barbed wire and armed guards. And, they are happy for us that we escaped with our lives.
This is a good conversation starter because it gives us a chance to say “Don’t believe everything you read…” and then we can talk about all the GREAT THINGS we love about Chicago. For example, BEST BURRITOS IN THE WORLD. And we have been across 1,000 miles of the Mexico border, so we have some perspective on this! And the changes in our neighborhood with all the activity around Wrigley Field are pretty impressive…which they should be since our neighbor (The Cubs) is spending $500M (yes, that is 1/2 $BILLION) sprucing up the place!
We LOVE visiting Chicago — and summer is the BEST time to visit — for lots of reasons. Some of them the same as why we have lived there for >30 years. While we were in Chicago:
- The Cubs swept 2 home stands.
- We had “stoop” parties often. Teaching our neighbor who is from Iceland the meaning of “Stoop.” This is derived from “Stupid” as in, ”Drink a lot of beer with your neighbors and just act Stupid.”
- We caught up with as many friends as possible. We had an Open House, which helped with that, cuz we have more people to see than we had evenings to see them.
- We attended a couple of super-friend Kathy Brown’s Super-Dance Classes where our friends and fellow students put up with our rust. I did not realize how much I missed someone nagging me about “ELBOWS…FRAME…”
- We met and visited our new Docs. Insurance issues required us to change all of them – especially galling for Liz; don’t get me started on THAT — and Dentists
- Sated ourselves on most of our favorite Chicago Delicacies – Hot Dogs, Burritos, Italian Beef Sammies, Pizza, Burritos, Burritos. Some of our favorite haunts even remembered our “usual” orders after 5 months of absence.
Unfortunately, Chicago and Illinois DO have one well-earned bad rap. Politics. If it is possible, Illinois politics make what is happening is Washington seem ethical, congenial, consensual and productive. And, if possible, Illinois is even more bankrupt than Washington, with the caveat that Illinois Pols cannot print money to solve problems. We left before it became too depressing…when we are away the local bickering is easy(er) to ignore, though the national and international can still dominate and depress if we let it (we don’t).