I woke up after my first night on the roadtrip in a motel and was somewhat disappointed at how late it was. It was about 10:30a, and I was about an hour out of the Chicago.
Feeling sluggish, I moved as quickly as I could to load stuff into my car. I drove into the city, fighting some traffic for a bit, and started looking for parking. Initially I was as frustrated and lost as I had been the night before. Finally, I saw a sign for Millennium Park parking. I followed it, got a little lost, then found myself and parked. My phone had little service, so I forgot to drop a pin as soon as I got out of the car. Instead I was over-focused on my mission; finding the nearest Giordano’s. The day before, when I knew I was going to be in Chicago, I asked Twitter what things I should check out. Giordano’s pizza was recommended by everyone who responded.
I walked about four blocks from where I parked and found the restaurant. After ordering my pepperoni pizza and some local beer (a brew called 312 from a place called Goose Island) I took to Foursquare to see if I could integrate anything from there with tips from friends. Foursquare suggested going in to Macy’s to check out the ceiling window from the fifth floor. I decided that after my pizza I would do that on my way to the Willis Tower.
The pizza was fantastic. Initially, I didn’t like it. But it grew on me. The first few bites were weird. I was very uncertain about the red sauce being on top. As I neared the end of the pizza I decided that I was going to miss the pizza once I was finished eating it. Not so much the beer. But such is life.
When I stopped at Macy’s after being at Giordano’s, I was not as amazed by the window as I thought I would be, but I was grateful to integrate into city life, and to get out of the blazing heat – the day topped out around 95F, and it was getting close to that. I walked to Willis Tower, went in, saw the elevator to the ticketing booth and remembered that I’m scared of heights. I stood awkwardly in a corner for a second before turning and walking out – if I’m going to do something I’m absolutely terrified of, I want someone I know to be there to document it and remember it with.
I backtracked and wander a bit, ending up at the Art Institute of Chicago. I paid for a ticket and wandered around the museum. I started with the Japanese art. It was so cool to see a variety of people brought together in one place. There was an older couple sitting on a bench looking at a piece and just being together. Several other couples and groups roamed the gallery.
Then something happened that shocked me. A mother with two children was walking through the gallery. Her children were talking about how much the exhibit bored them and that they thought it was stupid. And she agreed. It made me think about how grateful I am for my mother. I honestly do not remember going to very many museums with her, but I remember how passionate she was about me learning art history and music history and reading. She wanted me to be cultured and intelligent. Then I thought about all the people I have learned about how to be appreciative from. The diversity trainings, the in-class lectures about the importance of our world, the people who said things that mattered. I am so grateful to be who I am today. I am so grateful that I can look at an exhibit and understand how important it is in the context of our global society.
I was so impressed by the Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Hopper, Matisse. To be walking amongst creations of some of the most brilliant artists our history has known, to see things that directly impact how we view and understand our world today. The raw emotion of it had me close to tears more than once.
From there I wandered through Millennium Park. I watched families as I walked by the water area, gazed at the Cloudgate Sculpture for awhile – even taking a few pictures of myself – and watched as couples, families and friends interacted with the sculpture. This was a time that I just sat back and enjoyed the moment. As I walked away I passed the concert venue in Millennium Park where a classical music concert was being performed. I stood and listened for a moment.
Then I remembered that people had told me to go to Navy Pier. I looked at my watch. It was getting pretty later in the day. It seemed to be a good idea to go to Navy Pier, then perhaps find dinner.
I walked to Navy Pier – which was quite a stretch. Along the way, I passed an ice cream truck. “Aw what the heck,” I thought to myself. I was slightly thirsty anyways. I bought a chocolate dipped ice cream stick. So delicious. And delicate. The chocolate kept falling off.
I got to Navy Pier and realized that it seemed like a very touristy place. With lots of tourist looking people. It was nice to see Chicago over the water. I got to the end of the pier, found an empty chair and sat down. This is when I realized that the one of the bits of chocolate from my ice cream had fallen on my pants and was now a melted brown blob. “Well, shoot.” I thought to myself.
I walked back to where my car was parked – buying postcards along the way. I thought about humanity and how it is important to us that we have cities. A lot of my trip I had already been thinking about how cities started – many of the big ones are near water or ports or something like that. Without cities, we have nowhere to be pulled to. A city is a collective group of people that have all decided to live in a close proximity because everything they need is there.
When I got back to my car, I pulled some clean pants out. I looked around. I was in a corner of the garage. I decided to change in my car.
Foursquare recommended a coffee shop called Intellegentsia, which was very close to where I was parked. When I got to the coffee shop it reminded me of Ritual Roasters in San Francisco. I decided to pull out my book (Game of Thrones) and sit down and read while drinking my beautiful mocha.
It was beautiful to be able to sit down for a moment. To pretend for a brief period of time that I was a part of the myriad. Yet I knew that I wasn’t. I knew I was just a pretender.
I finished my coffee, I finished my chapter, shouldered my bag and moved on.
After paying for parking, I drove out of the city, headed further east. I stopped for the night just east of the Ohio border.