I was scrolling through my photos and reminiscing on my trip to Chicago last August before traveling to NYC.
Overall, I had a great trip. There were a few rocky family interactions, but lessons learned. I saw extended family, a few friends, one of my favorite bands, my White Sox, and got to eat my favorite foods. Best of all, I got to soak in the city, walking, taking the “L” (elevated trains, it’s what we Chicagoans call it), and enjoying beautiful, mild summer weather.
Even though I moved away and I have a life in Texas now, I doubt I will ever feel as free and as comfortable as I do hanging out in Chicago, whether downtown or in other parts of the city.
I heard about Wiseguys – A Chicago Eatery about a year ago but Husband and I were afraid to eat there. We have been disappointed while eating at other places claiming to have Chicago-style deep dish pizza and other items, and didn’t want to be disappointed again. But, we decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a shot.
The verdict… we were pleasantly surprised to each enjoy an Italian Beef with mozzarella cheese last night. The picture does not do the sandwich justice! We were out running errands today and decided to go back and each get a Vienna beef Hot Dog . Husband got a true Chicago-Style Hot dog with mustard, onion, relish, tomato, sport peppers, pickles and celery salt, while I broke the rules and got a Hot Dog plain that I then covered in ketchup. This is sacrilege for true Chicago-style hot dog aficionados, but I’m not a fan of mustard, nor tomatoes or raw onions. However, we both enjoyed our hot dogs immensely. We now have a place to go to scratch our Chicago food itch once in a while. If only we could find a local pizza to fill our void for Chicago Thin-crust tavern style pizza…
We have now lived in Central Texas for 5 1/2 years. In the beginning, everything was new to Husband and I. We left Chicago, Illinois for lots of reasons, mainly though, to get space from complicated families and to start a new chapter of our lives. Husband had just finished his Associate’s Degree, and I was laid off after seven years at my job. We moved here after having visited Austin for 5 days in 2009 and me spending two weeks while Husband spent six weeks in Austin in 2010. To clarify, we now live in Williamson County rather than Austin, though I work in Austin and the difference now is negligible. This place is not what we though it would be, as the shine has worn off.
As much as I like the Central Texas sunny days and winters with little to no snow, I have a long list of things I am iffy about and even really dislike. Bare with me while I rant a little.
Is it too much to ask for people to exist without being passive aggressive? If you’re going to do something and be a jerk about, just own it rather than waving at me about it, like that erases your actions! Maybe Chicagoans and other Northern varieties of people are rude, but at least I know what to do with that. Enough with the fake friendliness! Send it back to California, or wherever it came from. The only good thing about the fake friendliness is that, if you can spot, it will alert you to the fact that this person is probably going to trick you, do a bad job on whatever work you are paying them for, or that you should just avoid them at all costs. I saw this after Husband I dealt with a leasing agent, a real estate agent, a painter, a music producer, a chiropractor, a tile salesperson, and some many others I can’t keep track of. The chiropractor did untold damage to Husband’s back, and good luck finding a way to sue her and actually get paid. The painter and his crew painted our house worse than a group of 12 year olds with no experience. Husband ended up hiring someone to re-texture our walls so he could repaint everything, which costs him double and saved us no time, which is why we hired a painting company to begin with! Oh, and the attorney we hire to get some of our deposit back, couldn’t even get the job done.
In just under four months, I am excited to say that I will be briefly returning to Chicago again, this time to watch the first session of the Laver Cup and to see the White Sox play the Cubs on the Southside. What a surprise it was when Brother invited me to join him and his best buddy for some tennis and some baseball!
The trip I took in March brought out a lot of feelings. I had, honestly, avoided going back to Chicago because of the conflicted relationship my parents have and because out of sight, out of mind is much easier than to admit feelings. I was pleasantly surprised to have any stretch of time during which my parents got along in my presence; sadly it was short-lived. Though most of the news focuses on the bad things about Chicago and I myself spent a good amount of time voicing my displeasure with the politics and policies of Chicago and of Illinois, it was tough to see all of the places I missed. Walking around downtown Chicago is awesome, with many great places to eat, things to do, and just seeing the buildings. I am truly grateful for the time I had to enjoy the city and to see my parents acting like people, instead of enemies. It was also great to see a dear friend, chatting with her for a few hours on my last day in Chicago.
I live in Central Texas for many reasons, though not for the food. Many people think that food in the greater Austin area is great, and I beg to differ. To each his own. Also, there are some cool places and attractions in the Austin area, but Austin’s downtown is not on par with any of the major cities. You have to go to specific areas for shopping, movies, and other activities, not because it is a growing city, but rather this is the way it has evolved. It is my personal belief, that too many people in the Austin area have a slacker mentality, lacking integrity and much urgency about anything. Obviously we have found enough to like about living in Central Texas that we have stayed for almost five years and bought a house, but one of the best trade-offs is the weather and not having to shovel snow as we did in Chicago. We both prefer the sun and heat over snow and cold.
Anyhow, I look forward to not only seeing parents (we are all going to see tennis together), but my brother and his friend, and that we will get to enjoy our hometown together for the first time in five years. It’ll be good!
I hadn’t been back to Chicago in close to three years until last weekend. The last time I went back was when my mother-in-law died. I was there with Husband helping to tie up loose ends, discard old, out of date, no longer needed items to prepare for selling the house, and to attend the funeral. I was there two weeks, and I didn’t want to be there. The little free time I had was spent watching my parents argue and, when my schedule finally allowed for visiting friends, we couldn’t make it happen. It sucked!
Both Husband and I have complicated families, and we have felt the effects even miles away. I almost cancelled this trip a day or two after I decided to book the flights because of the drama attached to going home. Ultimately, I chose to go because my Dad needed an angiogram to further assess blockages in his heart. Knowing that Brother and Sister-in-law had just visited,and the possible severity of the situation, I went – on my terms.
One of the greatest and most surprising parts of the trip was on the first day when I spent eight hours with my parents and they both made an effort to get along. First, we ate lunch at Wojo’s, a neighborhood hamburger joint. Later on, my Dad gave me a lesson in how to hold, load, and fire a semi-automatic weapon with a laser target and dummy ammo. This was lots of fun and gave him great joy on the day before he ended up with a stent to clear two heart blockages. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my Mom throughout the weekend, and we were able to eat Beggar’s pizza while watching the White Sox. I wish my parents could be those well-meaning people toward each other more often, and live a happy life together… However, I am grateful to have had that time with them.
Trump Tower Chicago
Often referred to as the Corncob buildings
Chicago Riverwalk with view of the Tribune Tower and other buildings
Outside of the Cultural Center
Keith Haring: A Chicago Mural at the Chicago Cultural Center
Inner roof view of the Cultural Center
I found time to walk around Downtown Chicago for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I browsed at stores, visited a few new places (Maggie Daley Park and Dylan’s Candy Bar to name a few), and stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center. My Grandfather took my Brother and I to many events there, and sometimes we would just stop to rest in the café sitting area after lots of walking. This was a tough but good stop for me to make, and it was great to see some art while remembering Grandpa.