It happened. The Midwest and I officially met.
Back in the day (when I was about 13), I fell in love with the film Chicago. Velma Kelly was me and I was Velma Kelly. Although, for Halloween that year, I went as Roxie Hart, go figure. Anyway, I needed to set foot in Chicago. Seeing Velma and Roxie tap, shoot and lie their way through the city all while wearing sequins, velvet and fur was just too much to handle.
As the years passed, I found even more reasons to venture to the Windy City. Deep dish pizza was by far the most important. As a professional third wheel to Brit and her boyfriend Mike, I was given the opportunity to make a dream come true this past weekend. Mike, having family in Chicago, was going out to pay them a visit with Brit. Naturally, I went along with them. Makes sense, right?
Friday morning at approximately 7:30am, I exited my apartment to find Mike dressed in a camo t-shirt and American flag hat. Missing the memo, I had on white skinny jeans and a loose white embroidered tunic. A little more Hamptons than Chicago. This would not be a setback.
Before leaving West Chester, we made a very necessary stop at Wawa for sustenance. Without Wawa we would surely have perished within the first hour of our road trip. At least I know I could not have gone another 10 minutes without a fluffy chocolate chip muffin from the best gas station in the world. And everyone from Jersey through Delaware knows, a road trip isn't a road trip until you pull out of the Wawa parking lot. That's just the way it is.
There really is very little to say about the actual 13-hour drive to Chicago. The three of us took turns DJing, Brit and I read, I napped for a full 20 minutes and for a hot 30 seconds we joined a military convoy. And incase you did not know, Indiana is home to the RV hall of fame. Very little excitement...except for the Ohio rest stops.
Assuming you have never driven through Ohio (shame on you), allow me to enlighten you. All of their rest stops have a Panera Bread. For obvious reasons, Brit and I were ecstatic about this. If you don't get excited about seeing a Panera Bread Co you are either dead or new to this world. When Panera is the only thing you see for miles on end, it becomes a symbol of life itself. A freshwater lagoon in the middle of a concrete desert.
As the clock struck "get me out of this car" o'clock, we approached the Chicago skyline toll booth. And in perfect coincidence, so did a torrential downpour. Plowing through what can only be described as a traveling Niagara Falls, we saw the cloud covered skyline looming ahead with the Sears Tower peaking out welcoming us to the Windy City.
We had made it!
Wrigleyville, our specific destination, is a section of Chicago built around Wrigley Field and also happens to be where Matt, Mike's cousin, resides. Settling into Matt's manly floral couch with a beer, we concluded that we would go out even if we could barely keep our eyelids from sealing shut. This was our first non-working weekend in 5 weeks, a little exhaustion couldn't keep us down. Mike's sister Katie made a surprise appearance which livened us all up. It turned out that Matt had corralled the entire family to be together for the weekend. Excited to meet everyone I've heard so much about for the past year, my liver was silently screaming in fear and trying desperately to find even half the tolerance it had in college. This was going to be a weekend we would never forget. Well, we'd remember what we could at least.
Safe to say the first thing on the to-do list for Saturday morning was to shower. Sitting in a car with what you could call quirky air conditioning for half a day, followed by sweating it out in the bars leaves one feeling less than desirable. I must say, and I think I can speak for Brit, Mike and I, that our sleeping and living accommodations were quite comfortable while in Chicago. No sarcasm implied.
Before we could even say "Go Cubs!," the rest of the Harris/Ludwig clan arrived.
It was game time.
Truly some of the most welcoming people I've ever met, I instantly felt relaxed and included. And no, it was not the vodka talking. They are just nice people. Big personalities that will have you doubled over in hysterics, it's safe to say all the good things I've heard about them are true. Is it too late to be adopted?
Parting ways around 1pm, the majority of us headed to a bar just outside the stadium to continue the fun and watch the game. Probably the most fun I have ever had "watching" a sporting event on TV. We drank, rapped, and talked our way through nine innings, which unfortunately, did not end in the Cubs waving their W flag.
Those who have known me more than 5 minutes know I am not what you would call a sports aficionado (had to google how many innings are in a baseball game just now). That being said, I want to give a huge shoutout to the passion that is the Cubs fan base. Never have I seen such support for a team. Not winning a world series since 1908, by looking at the fans you would think the Cubs have a trophy case filled with wins from every world series since then. Their joy is contagious. So much so that I could not leave the city without my own little Cubs trinket, a Wrigley Field sweatshirt (in navy blue of course).
Making our way back to Matt's apartment and after a quick costume change, we piled into several Ubers and headed to Trump Tower. Mike's uncle generously shared a suite he acquired, with everyone. Unfortunately, said suite was in Trump Tower, but I can not tell you it wasn't beautiful. That would be a lie. It was beautiful. Especially, if you take off the "Trump" and just call it Tower. Filled with velvet couches, breathtaking views, deep dish pizza, cheetos, and $24 gummy candy (bad for your teeth, worse for your wallet), I felt like a spoiled teenager on an episode of Laguna Beach. All that was missing was my cutoff denim skirt and Swarovski encrusted T-Mobile Sidekick.
Thinking it was Midnight when it was actually 10:30pm (a very scary realization), we all started the decent. And by decent I mean we all crashed. To be specific, we crashed in various locations throughout the room. Brit and I on the sleeper sofa, some on chairs and many on the floor got creative using towels as blankets. Basically a giant slumber party. Thanks to Mike's aunt, who filmed the war zone, the scene will live on long after our back and neck pain has faded.
Around noon we kicked off Sunday with brunch. Brit got what has to be the most stunning chicken avocado BLT in existence...you know what, never mind. I'm just going to do a separate review on this particular meal. It is imperative I do this.
From brunch we ventured over to the Navy Pier, which was lovely. Lake Michigan is really much larger than I ever thought a lake could be. Still a little shocked by it's size, I had a hard time deciding if I should look at the skyline or the lake. Seeing all the boats scattered about gave me a little feeling of nostalgia for Rhode Island (Go Rhody!). It also made me disappointed to think how much I despise being on boats. Every boating experience I have ever participated in has ended in more water streaming out of my eyes than the lake, river, or ocean I happen to be on. Definitely a land creature.
Never having an issue with walking (my issue lies with cars), it was no problem trekking from Navy Pier to the bean. A city girl to the core, Chicago is a stunning place. Brit and I agreed that with it's spacial skyline, wide streets, and CLEAN streets we would love to take Tesoro there one day, but there is that little thing called winter. Have no fear, we came to an agreement nonetheless. After making our modest millions of dollars, I will have a summer home in Chicago and Brit will have a home somewhere warm and European. Solutions like this (spending money we are nowhere near making) are why we make such a splendid team.
The bean made me want the Elsa Peretti Tiffany bean pendant real bad. Would be an excellent Christmas or birthday gift if anyone was stumped about either holiday, just saying. I like gold. Anyway, the bean, to use a non-fussy word, was cool. It looks like you should be able to go over scoop it up in your arms and use it to make the perfect three bean salad. Hollow and shiny, with the same impact as a funhouse mirror, who can I see about getting one installed in my apartment? I would also like to note that I felt an insatiable need to grab some windex and go to town on the bean. So many handprints.
The bean made us thirsty so we went to the Chicago Athletic Association. This place was a highlight of our trip. Legendary to Chicago's history, the Chicago Athletic Association, functions as a bar and hotel with an interior awaiting its Vogue debut. One of the many bars is a converted library complete with wood-burning fireplaces, leather everything, antique books, dim lighting and waiters. Although not necessary, anything less than black tie feels underdressed. The building is a gastronomic exercise in its finest form. From the ground floor (Shake Shack), all the way to the rooftop bar, eat drink and smize your way to Sunday Funday.
We wrapped up out last night in Chicago on yet another rooftop bar, The J. Parker. The setting sun reflecting off of Lake Michigan in front of us, and the skyline to our left, was idyllic. A second plate of french fries for the day didn't hurt either. Our "tour guides," Matt and Kendall, went above and beyond showing us the best views in town. Most definitely a busy 48 hours breezing our way through the Windy City, when all is said and done, it was pretty perfect. A much needed vacation for both Brit and I, thank you all for such an enjoyable weekend. And if I owe anyone anything on Venmo, please let me know.