“Do you wanna stop viiiiiiiolence?” sang a man with long black hair on the street corner, waving a pamphlet in my face and doing a little leap/jig. That’s Chicago, now characterized in my mind by amazing food and crazy people. And train travel.
I took the train across the country and visited my family north of the city before heading to Lincoln Park to visit my girlfriend (okay, best friend, but we might as well get married) Chloe, where I embarked on a culinary tour of The Windy City. Bagels. Noodles. Waffles. Repeat. (Lather and rinse if you’d like.) I don’t think I’ve eaten so well in my life.
Day 1: Got on a train from Arlington Park to Chicago, where the conductor (whose name was surely Marshal, though I have no proof of that) grumped at me about my suitcase, then whistled while he walked away. Who yells at someone to move their suitcase while it’s being moved, then cheerily whistles three seconds later? Were you a prison warden in a past life?
Arrived and was picked up by my ladylove, and we walked to the elevated train (kind of like the light rail, if you live in Seattle…we don’t have those where I come from). We jumped on and the train started moving before I was prepared, so I flew about a foot sideways and was thrown into a glass partition, yelling, “Blahhhhh!!” and then saying (awkwardly and loudly), “Welcome to Chicago!” because I’m a doofus. When we finally found a seat, I got mean mugged by a homeless woman for the entire ride. She wouldn’t even break her stare when I made eye contact with her, so I just sat (mostly) quietly for the rest of the ride while she murdered me in her mind.
Sat in the library while Chloe went to class and witnessed the most lovely foreign couple be in love and wished I went to DePaul, because library.
I can’t even remember what we did for the rest of the day, so that’s good.
Day 2: Woke at the crack of dawn (11) after Chloe got back from class and we took a train to some loop (the West Loop? Who knows. So many loops.) to eat at Little Goat Diner. We got on the wrong train, so we had to get off and walk through Sedgewick, which is super cute building-wise but super sketchy people-wise. Some scary man looked us up and down and said, “Mmm, I like that” or something. A guy sneezed on my face as he walked by. I’m not kidding. I honestly don’t how it happened because I have PTSD.
Finally got to the restaurant. First, it’s absolutely adorable and I love it and want it to be my personal restaurant. Second, GARLIC BREAD AND TOMATO SOUP. Third, Cinnamon roll, be my husband. That is all.
We moseyed back to her apartment before heading out once more to an amazing Italian restaurant that started with a Q (I’m so good at remembering this trip…I’ll bet it impresses you) where I tried veal for the first time (delicious) and fell in love with our waiter, who looked like Tony Parker.
Went home and watched an episode of Dance Moms because we’re awesome and Abby Lee Miller is scary.
Day 3: Ate at Jam & Honey. They have a jar of nutella on the table “just in case.” Needless to say, they are my kind of people. We ate waffles and bananas and yum. A little girl was eating with her mom next to us and she told me she was getting pancakes, and since I don’t know how to talk to children, I said, “Wow, you’re going crazy!” because that makes sense. I wanted to die a little, but she was preoccupied with her doll and children are weird anyway, so they don’t care when adults are. …I’m an adult.
Went to the Mac store because duh I love makeup and it was the professional store, so makeup artists go there to get their supplies. They have every pigment ever, so you can mix specific colors and…I died a little bit, I’m not going to lie. I could live in that store.
Then we went to Lush, which doesn’t exist where I live, and I bought soap that’s called Sexy Peel, because puns are the best. I also basically got high off one of their colognes because it smelled like man. Chloe and I were almost embarrassed, because we just wanted to get boyfriends and spray it on them. It smelled like a woodpile and man. Man man man. Also, it was called Breath of God, so that’s kind of amazing.
Ate noodles in curry sauce at Flat Top. Died inside because I was so happy.
It was raining, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was go to The Bean, so we trudged our way across the city (when I say trudged I mean walked and took a train, and when I say across the city I mean several blocks) to that cute little reflecting piece of awesome, and we took lots of pictures. We asked a couple sorority girls to take our picture with the city in the background, because I feel a strange connection to anyone wearing Greek letters. They cut The Bean out of one of the pictures…connection lost.
A homeless man asked us for change and when we kept walking, said, “You look wonderful today,” to me. I honestly couldn’t help but say, “Thank you” and laugh as I walked away. He chuckled heartily in the background. Very heartily. (Somehow that sounded foreboding…it wasn’t supposed to.)
Ate bagels for dinner because Barack Obama likes that bagel shop and it’s a few blocks from Chloe’s apartment. Besides, bagels are always acceptable, and they steam them there! Whaaaat?
Day 4: Woke up, put on my new makeup (yes yes yes yes) and went to Argo Tea, where I drank the most delightful black tea with honey and lemon, before heading to Glazed and Infused Donuts. Three words: Crème brulee donut. Once again, I died of food-induced happiness.
Then, as if donuts for breakfast didn’t make us want to have heart attacks, we got deep dish pizza. It’s Chicago, y’all, and apparently that means you have to eat pizza that immediately puts you in a coma.
I got on a plane today and headed home. I miss Chloe, and I miss Chicago (which is surprising because I don’t particularly like cities…but Chicago is delightful if you ignore the dirt).
A few random quotes/situations:
Chloe: You can be my wife but I don’t know if I can share you with all the black, homeless Chicago men that find you attractive.
Me: You noticed that? It happens to me in Seattle, too.
Chloe: They were responding to whatever you were putting out. At least you’ve found your niche market in the romance department.
(I don’t wanna brag, but I do have a way with the homeless fellas. Meow.)
Me every 5 minutes: Something gross just hit me in the face.
Chloe: Oh, there’s the skyline!
Me: Cuuute! …Wait, did I just say that?
A couple Bob Marley lookalikes in Sedgewick: Man, we can rent scooters and ride the shit around that place. (Because that sentence makes sense in English).
A very-nearly toothless, scrawny white man walked onto our train, but another guy was trying to get off and they shuffled around for a second trying to get around each other before Toothless in Chicago mumbled loudly “Fuck you, outta my fuckin’ way,” then sat down across from and staring at us the rest of our ride. He answered his cell phone at one point and just yelled, “mumble mumble fucking mumble” before hanging up and getting out a packet of cigarettes. He kept slapping it against his hand and I was just praying he wouldn’t light up (if he had, I may have been forced to murder him because I was tired and I don’t like cancer)…and then we got off. More like fled, really.
Everyone was dressed in green and at least slightly drunk by about 11:30 a.m. because they all think they’re Irish and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was today. Fun times ensued, but I am neither 21 nor still in Chicago.
Chloe sang a Mariah Carey song to me in a cupcake shop last night, so that memory will just have to stay in my mind until the next time I see her. I’ll miss you, boo!
Cheers, muffins, and Happy (almost) Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all! Apparently we’re all Irish at heart, or maybe everyone just likes to drink.