Honey, I’m home!!! It was just supposed to be a long weekend. That’s it, just a few days out of town, a few days to relax, a few days away from the city I love. However, I feel like I’ve been gone for ages, didn’t get enough sleep, and might have found a special feeling for another city.
I left for the airport right from work Thursday afternoon. Traveling for pleasure but throwing it on the end of a work day makes for quite a stressful day at the office. I had a ton of work that had to get done, and every time I turned around I was going into another meeting. All very productive meetings, however it’s tough to get stuff done while not at my desk. I must have checked my cell phone (AKA my watch) a million times throughout the day. It was like I had a big shot clock going over my head all day- Five hours until take off, 4 hours until take off, holy shit, three hours until take off…
After turning on my ‘out of office’ message and trying to make my desk look relatively organized and hide the fact that it was a war zone, I was off for the bus that would so slowly (so I thought) take me LaGuardia. Somehow, my driver made it to the airport in record time. And in another strange occurrence, the line to get through security was nonexistent. With the travel gods apparently showing more love than usual, I figured something would be derailed soon enough, and it was…
My 7pm flight was now set to depart at 8:45 which made the last remaining seat at the bar that much more welcoming. I think airport bars might be one of the best view points to people watch. People of all different ages, colors, cloths, and bags all heading somewhere different…I had two women to my left who were obviously from Texas. Their accents and the fact that I could see Dallas Fort Worth on the boarding pass that was being used as coaster, made their destination pretty easy to see.
I ended up chatting with the guy to my left, and I’m not even sure how. I think it might have been a sports highlight on one of the many TVs. It’s like there is an unwritten rule that if two guys who have never previously met want to start talking in a bar, sports must be the first topic. He was a nice guy and a big St. Louis Cardinals fan, my Chicago Cubs biggest rivals. After a few beers, he went to check the status of his flight and returned with news that it had been canceled. Hearing this jumped up, finished my drink and darting off for gate C12. Not canceled, just another delay, 8:45 had turned into 9:30.
I did finally make it to the city. I didn’t check a bag, so that meant it was straight from the gate to a cab. I called my buddy who had driven in from Indiana, to find out what fine establishment I needed to tell the cabbie would be my final destination. The first difference I noticed between Chicago and New York was the back seat of the cab. It was spacious, almost roomy. There was not a divided wall of fiberglass with a sliding window separating the driver and his costumers. I thought this was weird and probably a little unsafe but actually kind of liked it. You feel more like a passenger than a prisoner.
The first night with two old friends from college was a long one, but certainly one I enjoyed. They are both the type of friend that you can go years without speaking to and seemly pick up right where you left off. That element of a friendship is one that I really value and am lucky enough to experience more times than not when seeing old friends. Both friends are successful in their own ways, but have never lost sight of what’s truly important…family. It’s nice to be able to sit around and talk about real life, the past and most certainly the future. It was great to see both of them…
I saw my mom and my brother for lunch on Friday. Other than feeling the effects of a long night before, and clearly by my mom’s first words, “man, you look rough” wearing it on my face, it was great to see both of them. We met for lunch at a great place right off of Michigan Avenue. (Their 5th Avenue) The menu items were all a little frou-frou for the ideal hang over meal, but delightfully tasteful.
After numerous bars, restaurants, and even shops I really started to notice the people that make up Chicago. The people are pleasant without being over the top sappy. I love that it can be a big city, just behind LA to take third prize in that category and still have some friendly characters. There is a genuineness that most seem to be let be seen with little effort.
My feelings about the west coast, especially the baby Los Angeles that is Scottsdale, Arizona is different from the niceness I witnessed in Chicago. People in Scottsdale were even friendlier, and by far much more attractive, on average. The sun and beautiful people are constants in the valley of the sun. My problems arose once I wanted to see what was behind the those $300 Chanels. Those tan, toned bodies were always exposed but real genuineness was usually no where to be found.
New Yorkers are tough and I love it. We have to be, this is the toughest city in the world. Please do not confuse toughness with meanness- that we are not. I think we just all wear a tough, almost invincible layer that we allow only the few and well deserving to penetrate. I do know this is necessary tool to win the battle of the apple, but I sometimes wish it wasn’t so constant and wasn’t so dense.
In having some friends and a ton of family in Chicago, I have now found what I think is the middle ground of the East and West Coast ways of life. Geographically speaking, I guess it makes sense that it is the Midwest. But after my experiences on both coast and now with some exposure to the Windy City, it is truly the middle. The tan, toned bodies are not so tan and more than likely covered by a Cubs sweatshirt, but what’s behind them is something I really enjoy. There is a realness that people just wear on their sleeves that mixes so well with their big city attitudes and genuineness.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not packing my bags and leaving on a jet plane anytime soon. Just nice to see what else is out there…I still love you New York
Thanks for listening