It's been a while since I've posted. I know. Been busy, and that's all there is to it. Anyway...
Mark and I were fortunate enough to have two wonderful days to travel to Chicago and Milwaukee a few weekends ago. It's always hard to nail down some serious quality time with the people that you love when you've got less than 48 hours before the plane heads back to sunny Denver. But we managed to squeeze many important friends and family members in -- even if we had to schedule them all in two hour increments!
This one's for...get ready...wait for it...wait for it...
Michelle, Gretchen, Katy, Samir, Andy, Mom, Dad, Mike, Pamela, Logan, Eli, Heather, Andrew, Lucas, Sarah, Steve, Spencer and Reggie. I miss you all dearly...thank you for such a wonderful weekend!
THE QUICK, BUT WELL WORTH IT, TRIP
Picture dead-stopped Chicago freeway traffic. Humidity so thick you could almost swim through (I SERIOUSLY grew up in that mositure-filled HELL?) A "road soda," "roadie," "cocktail-on-the-go," whathaveyou, splattered under my feet in the Flora-mobile, and four dolled-up twenty-(oops, and thirty too!)something city girls geared up for some marathon catching-up at the Northside Cafe in Bucktown (Wicker Park? I never can tell...)
The quick trip couldn't have started out any better for me. Three people who have meant so much to me in Chicago, girlfriends Katy, Gretchen and Michelle, braved the trek out to Midway Airport to pick me up in the Flora-mobile (Gretchen's zippy black Jetta, branded with her trendy Chicago flowershop logo on the back window).
We scored a fab front patio table in the midst of the bustling Saturday night crowd and got busy with a few rounds of spirits, a little "oooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" over sassy sparkling engagement rings, a couple flashes of the camera and before we knew it, it was time to meet up with pals Samir, Andy (lady-loving "pimp" friend and former awesome roommate, respectively) and my honey, Mark.
Fast forward to serious chits, goofy chats, strong shots, warm smiles, loving hugs and sad goodbyes -- Friday night was almost over before it even began.
With my suitcase trailing behind me as if to "roll along" with the latenight festivities (terrible punn, I'll admit), only a few of us made a pitstop for New York Style pizza slices and pitchers of beer before I hit up a cab to finally take me to our hotel to crash before the madness immediately picked up where it left off the next morning.
Saturday morning. Hot, humid, hazy, Chicago-like. Plans to see my family for Father's Day, then my friend Pamela and her boys, and finally our friends Andrew and Heather and new baby Lucas all before our 5:00 Amtrak departure for Milwaukee. Onward!
I chose Nookie's Restaurant on Halsted in Boys Town for Father's Day breakfast (a day early), primarily because I have great memories of hungover Sunday brunches there with friends, and it was so close to my old work and apartment. Plus, I just missed the neighborhood. I missed the busy, bustling, far from heterosexual neighborhood where excitement rears around every corner.
So my mom, dad and brother Mike met Mark and I for breakfast and since I'm not used to having to check to see if the Cubs are in town, of course, it was a game day and parking is nearly non-existent. Long story short, my family who was traveling from close to the western suburbs floated slowly along in the sea of red and blue Cubbie fans until, miraculously, a glorious parking spot opened up right in front of the restaurant! I immediately thrusted my body into the spot and stood there until my parents pulled up (waving off many urked cars in the process who were in the same predicament...) And boy. I still had it!
Breakfast was good, but it went by way too fast. It was great to see the fam, but it's never fun saying goodbye... Never. It just doesn't get any easier.
After breakfast, Mark and I walked a few blocks over to Windy City Sweets to pick out some candy for Pamela's sons and my friend in Milwaukee, Sarah. We packed up the goodie bags and contiuned south on Broadway as I've done a million times before. I used to be able to walk home from work down Broadway, or walk to a friend's house, or pop into ten different shops in an afternoon, all on foot. I completely miss walking everywhere in Chicago -- especially because of recent gas prices!
Mark and I strolled all the way to Wellington Street, turned right and stopped in front of 664 W. Wellington and waited on the concrete stoop for Pamela to swing by with the kids to pick us up. 664 -- where it all began. The old apartment building where Mark and I were first roommates. Where our old hippie landlord, Dwight, grew pot on the roof. Where many different roommates came and went, and many a Halloween or Super Bowl party occurred. 664, a beautiful place full of even more beautiful memories.
Pamela's Volvo pulled up in the conveiently located fire hydrant spot in front of 664. The flashbacks kept coming... I pictured the night of my initial interview at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School for the Admissions position that I later accepted working by Pamela's side. That evening after my interview had ended, Pamela literally scooped me up under her wing and drove me home (mind you, I wasn't even offered the job yet...) And that was the first of hundreds of car rides with Pamela, all ending at the fire hydrant spot in front of 664.
We headed towards a park across the street from Andrew and Heather's condo near the sketchy Dominick's grocery store because it was convenient, and on the way we (Logan, Eli, Pamela, Mark and I) stumbled upon an awesome community vegetable garden. With the help of the fabulously patient garden worker-man person, the boys picked beets and radishes straight from the ground for dinner and at that very moment, I was hopeful that someday when I have children, they'll be as interested in the farming aspect and variety of foods that Logan and Eli are. The questions that the boys were asking and the curiousity that filled their minds made me proud! And I could tell that it made the worker-man person proud too.
Time FLEW. Mark played with Logan and Eli in the playground and Pamela and I gossiped and chatted so quickly that I can barely remember exactly what we were talking about! I do remember that I love her so much, and it was so hard to say farewell to her and the boys as well.
Next stop: Andrew and Heather's condo to meet baby Lucas! It was so weird to see our friends with a baby, especially since we only saw Heather when she was pregnant once because we moved to Denver right around the time when she got pregnant. Such a sweet, cute boy! I am so happy for our friends and their new little man! They all seem so happy, healthy and beaming. I'm so glad we were able to meet litte Lucas!
Fast forward four hours to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (well, Cedarburg, to be exact). We rode the Amtrak train from Chicago and were able to snag a little sleep on the way. It had been a whirlwind weekend already, and we still had one day left.
We entered Sarah and Steve's new house and I'll have to admit, I focused on Reggie first! Reggie, their super awesome Beagle / Jack Russel Terrier mix. I turned my head and there was Sarah, on the couch, snuggling with six week old Spencer. Holy reality check! My friends are having babies! (cute ones too, by the way...) He was so sweet!
We had a delicious barbecue dinner out on their porch at dusk in the quaint town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin. The crickets were chirping, misquitos prevalent and the porch swing steady and still. Though we were only in town for one night, I felt relaxed and at ease. Although we only get to see each other a couple of times a year, it is so easy to pick up where we left off.
A few Wisconsin brewery and country gift shop visits later, and it was time to head for the airport on Sunday evening. Where had the weekend gone? So fast...so quick... A few short days filled with many years of sweet memories.
All in all, one perfect, well worth it, trip.