This day is trying so hard to be perfect that it’s just becoming a little show-offy. Like the beautiful and sweet toothy Midwestern girl who knocked sinewy Miss New York down to first runner up in the pageant. Here are a few things I’m going to write in my gratitude journal for Wednesday:
The weather in Chicago tonight feels like something that the Chamber of Commerce ordered up to persuade people to move here. Seventy and blue skies with a soft breeze. While shopping on the Magnificent Mile, I bought myself a little green and white scarf to WARM UP.
This city tries hard to be beautiful (and succeeds). It’s the cradle of skyscraper architecture. Invented here, not in New York! I have rested my feet by plinking fountains, marveled at street planters overflowing with orchids and looked out over a lake so blue it’s hard to believe it’s not an ocean.
When I asked the doorman for directions to a pizza place, he winked at me and asked if I was buying. The waitress at Giordano’s complimented my use of “y’all.” Gaggles of tourists don’t mind looking like tourists. I’ve gotten friendly answers from every person I’ve asked for help. I like Chicago so much because it bustles with NICE PEOPLE. Even when your car gets blocked in, it’s by an ice cream truck.
Getting to spend time with Jessica, who lived across the hall from me for six weeks in the summer of 1985, when we were at Governor’s Honors. I haven’t seen her since high school. I was a little intimidated about seeing her—she graduated summa cum laude from Princeton and is the managing editor of a prestigious scholarly journal. And—even WORSE—she has the most beautiful hair. I had such a good time catching up with her that now I’m going to have to miss her when I go back home!
(That’s her up there dealing with the ice cream truck).
The food, good lord, the food. A stuffed crust pizza with the perfect balance of salt and butter in the flaky crust. An engineering marvel akin to the John Hancock Building. Two glasses of rose for lunch because red would have made me want a nap. Tapas at Emilio’s for dinner—dates wrapped in bacon, garbanzos whipped with olive oil and served with shaved radishes and grilled peppers. A cold bowl of gazpacho. Goat cheese rolled in candied pecans with a pear poached in wine on the side.
I get to spend four nights in a hotel bed. No one has played hide and seek in it. No cats have left hair on the pillowcase. The sheets were washed by someone else, very recently. I can sleep in the shape of an X and use all four pillows. I can turn the air conditioning down to 64 and snuggle under the duvet.
My room overlooks Navy Pier, so I’ve been watching the Ferris Wheel spin around and around. I think the Ferris Wheel was introduced here, during the Columbia Exposition in…1896? It was the American answer to the Eiffel Tower!
And while I was sitting here watching the Ferris Wheel, I heard an odd booming noise. Fireworks! On a Wednesday night!
I got over the delight of that and got back to writing when a huge golden moon appeared out of nowhere. It’s lighting up the rippling surface of the lake.
Like I said, Chicago is kinda showing off.