I really just did a lot of walking around when I was in Chicago, people watching, took pictures. And of course I ate deep dish pizza from Gino’s East my favorite pizza place in Chicago. I did more thinking in 3 days than I had in a while; I do not know if it was a good or bad thing.. I have been to Chicago many times over the years since I was a little kid and have learned my way around better on the more recent trips there. I was not starring at a map, looking around confused and asking for directions, I didn’t feel like a tool and it was nice. I knew where I wanted to go and how to get there when it was somewhere specific and the rest of the time I did not give a shit; I just went.
My hotel was great and was on the north side of the river and across the street more or less from the house of blues and Harry Carrey’s restaurant My hotel was theSpring Hill Suites great room and amazing view and free internet if you ever go. The pool is on the top floor and has a hell of a view.
There is something special about Chicago at night though. When the tourists have left town or are tucked away in their hotels. Later at night when everything is closed or nearly closed, people are at home with their families, cars are parked and most of the honking cabs have disappeared to wherever they go. It is a nice time just to walk around even alone. I got lucky with the weather, it was only cold the first night and even that didn’t stop me. My last night there it was 60 degrees and thunderstorms which is odd for Chicago at the end of January. I spent a lot of time wandering the parts of the city where the tourists do not usually go, where the downtown Chicagoan’s live off the Magnificent Mile I guess you could say. I walked with a coffee and a cigarette in my hand, listening to jazz, smiling politely as people went by jogging or walking their dogs. I saw couples out for a quiet evening strolls or on their way back from a dinner or drink. There was serenity to the city that I have never noticed before at least to this degree. It was a great time to see the city when it slows down from its normal hectic nature. I know there is much more to Chicago than the parts of went to and someday I will visit those. For this trip I just need a few familiar things, there is enough bodies in the river already I think.
During my time there, a few odd things happened though; I caught myself talking to someone who was not there. There were parts of the town that for whatever reason I could not go to, places I could not walk by and restaurants that I could not eat at and may never eat at again. It is the part of Chicago that in my mind still belongs to me and someone else. Where the ghosts and memories dwell and may for who knows how long. The places you went to first with someone you love are always hardest to go to alone I think no matter where you go and what you do. Eating alone in a restaurant is something that weirds me out in general (and I feel like a loser) I only did it once at O’Callaghan’s pub around the corner from my hotel since there was only four people in the place and I was writing anyways.
I wanted to go to the Art Institute of Chicago…but I got about as far as the front steps, the lions, and that is about it…I never even pulled my camera out. I knew what was inside and it was more than expensive paintings, sculptures and parents trying to teach their kids culture. Maybe someday I’ll be able to go in, someday it will be easier but for now I can’t…in some way I suppose it was me trying to respect a memory that means a lot or perhaps my gut was telling me I wasn’t ready. It is hard to explain without saying everything and I never ever say everything and most of my so-called friends choose not to hear everything so that’s as far as I’m going with that.
I made memories of my own, new ones, saw and heard new things and tried new food. I was that single guy, drinking alone, eating alone and walking alone surrounded the opposite. I was not happy and I was not sad I was somewhere in that foggy gray area in between. For some reason though I was okay with it…not happy about being okay with it but okay with being okay with it…if that made any fucking sense.
I loved my time there and look forward to going back sooner rather than later. It was not my first trip, my first vacation totally alone. However, it was something I have not done in years, at least 5, not even Harley was with me. I suppose this is something I will get used to or should get used to. Maybe Chicago showed me that I should be alone or at least survive it without going insane.
(all pic on this blog post I took myself)