I spent last weekend in beautiful Chicago with Mary, who is soon to leave the big city to return to Madison. I’m surely I have expressed my love for Chicago many times before on this site, but since I first visited the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry as a kid, I’ve been a bit enamored with the city. The year I hit 16 I drove my crappy car (Ed the gray Pontiac 6000, for those of you still with me) down with three close high-school friends–(I still can’t believe my parents let four 16-year-old girls drive to downtown Chicago with just a map, I hope I can be that cool with my kids someday).
We oohed at expensive clothes on Michigan Avenue and thought ourselves chic and cool dining at the intestinally decorated Cheesecake Factory at the base of the John Hancock Building. My love for Chicago has perhaps matured a bit in the last few years, visiting Mary and her great roommates and friends in the city. I’ve learned the inner workings of how to get around in Chicago, tried to learn the names and locations of the neighborhoods and adore the vast selection of local restaurants, bars and shops lining the city streets. I choose my clothes with more determination when I go to Chicago. Deep at the core of this behavior is my dislike for being a tourist. I always want to appear calm, adjusted and normal when I travel, Chicago or Beijing.
I wonder what other drivers are thinking watching me parallel park with my slightly embarrassing Wisconsin plates, trying to be as balanced and cool as possible on the L and the buses, despite being a person who almost solely travels by car. Mary might laugh at these confessions, but she’s at home in Chicago after four years there. I’m still charmed by Chicago, because it’s a big city, because it seems to have millions of thriving local businesses, because the old neighborhoods are so beautiful, because the parks are well-kept, the streets clean, the transportation options numerous.
There are a lot of Wisconsin people who disdain our Southern neighbors. To tell the truth, I hardly know anyone from Chicago, even Mary’s friends with whom I am now acquainted seem to be from anywhere but Chicago originally. I am planning to take my family to a Brewer’s game this summer (yes, it’s still going to happen family) and I kind of wanted to go to a game against the Cubs because it would be fun and crowded. My dad had the opposite reaction, thinking that it would be too crowded and “full of people from Illinois.” Don’t hate my dad, everybody in Wisconsin says things like that. We apparently hate their tolls, hate their big houses on our quaint northern lakes, hate their driving and on and on.
But these Chicagoans, they are doing something right in that city. Chicago is the kind of city I wander around in and want to join. I never felt that strongly about it until I really got to spend time in some of the neighborhoods. Yes, it’s expensive and big and traffic is horrible, but the beautiful thing is that you don’t need a car if you live near the L or a busline in Chicago. We went to some neighborhood festivals this weekend and it was great. Perhaps a bit crowded at the Old Town art scene, but there was so much activity going on in Andersonville, it was fantastic.
Anyway, part two of my rambling today is related to the show Arrested Development, which I have unfortunately discovered far too late to help save it from cancellation. Saturday Mary and I walked several miles throughout the day and were exhausted by 8:00 pm. We got a yummy take-and-bake pizza and rented the dismal “Must Love Dogs” and one DVD of Arrested Development episodes. I watched season one of AD a few months ago but I’m not sure I ever mentioned it on the blog. It is the funniest show ever and everyone should rent it on DVD so that some network will bring it back for more episodes before it is too late…. Okay, it’s just a tv show, and you have to watch it to understand it, but it’s hilarious. Next time you all go to Blockbuster for a movie, rent the first season one DVD of AD instead. You will not be disappointed. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.