Summer vacation. Chicago. Family and friends and seeing the city.
It has been numerous years since I have been back and it was great to see my mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. It's been too long. We had a lovely time visiting family, taking a break, watching the kids discover the excitement of fireflies and the drama of lightning and thunderstorms. Southern California kids miss out on some things like a white Christmas and the special crisp smell of Fall in the Midwest and East, humidity and rainstorms in the summer, lush green everywhere. And because we live across the country from our families, our kids have a very different experience than we had growing up. They see relatives every couple of years vs every week or month. Family trips are about rediscovering each other and enjoying being together for a few precious days.
It was especially sentimental for me to go into the city for a couple days and show my kids where I lived, things I did, what life was like for me when I lived in Chicago. It's been almost 16 years since I left that spectacular city to try out a new life in Los Angeles. I love my life in California. But it was also wonderful to remember why I loved living in Chicago. As bittersweet as it sometimes was, the eight years I lived there were full of self-discovery, heartbreak, adventure, friendship, growth, dating and love, more heartbreak, tons of work and finding myself. It was about growing up and my twenties. It is a significant part of the journey to who I am now.
Some of what I revisited...my old neighborhood of Lakeview and Ann Sather's restaurant for brunch with giant, gooey cinnamon rolls. We saw a Cubs game at Wrigley field (Cubs won!) and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory. German food at The Bergoff downtown. Shopping on Michigan Avenue. Busses and "L" trains (the mosaic with modern faces on the train is from the Belmont Station). The old Marshall Field's building in the Loop. What a beautiful and unique city, vibrant and full of character. When I lived there, Grant Park did not have Millenium Park with the new sculptures and music pavillion by Frank Gehry. The Cloud Gate sculpture (we like to call the giant silver jellybean) is fascinating. You just can't stop staring at it and the reflections. I love the optical illusions you get with warped reflection upon warped reflection. At The Crown Fountain we waited for the water to spit out with children laughing and squealing under the arch of water. Magical summer in the city...
I may be a California girl now, but I still love you Chicago.