My husband and I were granted a long-weekend away from normality to celebrate our eighth anniversary, so we hopped in the car and drove five hours straight east and ended up in the Windy City. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a real city, and this is as real a city as any—especially for the Midwest.
Chicago is filled with noise, smells and sights of almost anything imaginable, like any great city would have, including the smell of urine, the bone wrenching sound of a light rail screeching along the tracks, pigeons bee-lining for your head on a crowded sidewalk, and amazing food. We indulged. We ate, we drank, we lounged. We listened to incredible jazz during the Chicago Jazz Festival, and we admired the interesting and varied architecture and public art around downtown. We ate so much deep-dish pizza we actually got sick of it. And it almost seemed like we were a young couple again, childless and fancy free.
The hotel we stayed at hosted a wine hour each evening, so we obliged. We sat among about 50 other hotel guests in the snazzy lobby, people watching and reminiscing, when an old woman and her husband walked into the room. They looked to be in their late 70s or early 80s. She was wearing a long gown circa 1975, and he was in the same time period slacks and shirt. After they got their wine they sat on a sofa facing us. The old woman turned to a young man next to her, who seemed to be either German or Dutch, and started telling him that she was from Brooklyn and had met her husband, who was in the English Army, in New York.
Then she turned to us and told us the same story. “Thank God for Hitler,” she said, because if it weren’t for him, she would have never met her husband.
My husband and I looked at each other, sort of in a state of amused shock. By then she had turned to the next person and started telling him the same story. Meanwhile, her husband had been working the room, probably telling a similar story of love and adventure during WWII.
Moral of the story: when you come to the big city be prepared to rub shoulders with the wacky and subtly senile.
Chicago lived up to expectations. Visits with old friends, and meeting new ones. Hot dogs with chili, and chorizo stuffed dates. Lake Michigan. Weddings needing to be crashed. And very little wind.