Would you believe that I have just bought a guidebook to Chicago? Yeah. A GUIDEBOOK to CHICAGO. Yes, that would be the place where I was born, and the place where I went from kindergarten through high school and some college, the place where I got married and divorced and had LOTS of way less formal relationships. That Chicago. And I bought a guidebook.
There are sensible reasons for this, actually, chief among them being that I haven't spent any more than about 20 minutes in Chicago since Sarah was about three years old...and since Sarah is now 28, you see the problem. Oh, I've been in and out, but for stated reasons...a reunion, my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary (and now I'm going to their daughter's 50th anniversary...my, how time flies when you're getting old). Really, though, I haven't spent any extended time there in years. The other reason is that the whole transportation system has changed (I can no longer grab the Illinois Central at Randolph Street and get off at 55th, on account of it's now something called Metra, whatever that may be, and I don't know whether it even still GOES to 55th Street). And naturally, few of the restaurants I frequented are still around, and on top of all THAT, we're staying downtown on Monroe Street, and I'm a Near North and Hyde Park kid.
All of this makes me feel deeply disoriented, obviously. I want to take Sarah to a lot of places in my history, and I'm not even sure I can find them...or that they still exist. It's a distinctly weird feeling.
However, our Chicago social life is coming together nicely. We arrive Friday morning (this coming Friday morning) and my pal Tommy (I wouldn't like to say he's an old friend, but he took me to my senior prom) is taking us to dinner and the theatre. Then Cass and Charley's anniversary is Saturday. Monday we're going to Indiana...yes, I know that sounds strange, but it's a bit of Indiana that's only half an hour away from the Loop (that's downtown Chicago). An old Encore Theatre pal died just before Christmas last year, and this is the memorial. Luckily, Encore people don't deal in solemn anything (as I told Sarah when she tried to balk at this occasion), and it's a great way to let her meet a lot of the people who shaped my life a million or so years ago. Tuesday or Wednesday we're having lunch with Bill the trustee, God help us, and Thursday is an early lunch with my best pal Carolyn (hi, there!) before the plane home.
In between all that, there's the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry and going out to Hyde Park and finding interesting restaurants (another reason for that guidebook) and just general wandering around. It should be a great trip.
But it still feels decidedly peculiar to buy a guidebook to Chicago.