Chicago in review

I sit by the window on the airplane, watching the black, jagged shape of the wing against the darkening sky, in which indigo blends with a soft baby blue. The night is winning and soon, black will be the only hue on the horizon, punctuated by, perhaps, the twinkling of stars.

How perfect the sky and the world above and below.

Our trip to Chicago is at its end, and we’re on our way home. Like my son says, part of us is happy to be heading home but part of us is sad. Chicago was fun, while it lasted.

Some reflections:

I was astounded by the amount of sirens that bellowed throughout the city. Every night, as we wrapped up our day and got ready for bed, or as we lay in bed, waiting for sleep to take us, sires bounced through the windows. In the mornings, too, we’d head the sirens of ambulances and police. Every. Single. Day.

I absolutely loved that we walked everywhere. With the exception of the cab we took to and from the airport, and on Thursday, when it rained (oh yea, and when we went to the Navy Pier since it was a bit farther), we walked. It was wonderful! We’d wrap ourselves up, and start walking, passing others in the same treks. It was lovely seeing so many people, young and old, out and about.

I was equally astounded by the amount of smokers in the city.  Everywhere we walked and went, we’d pass by smokers. This got somewhat tiring, though, as we tried to maneuver the sidewalks to get the least possible exposure.

There is amazing history in Chicago, from politics to mafia to immigration.

The hotel in which we stayed, the Renaissance Marriott Blackstone, was perhaps one of the best hotels we’ve visited. The building, over a hundred years old, hosted presidents and mafia lords alike, and a few years ago was bought by Marriott and renovated. It was nicely centered in downtown, an easy 15-minute walk from the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum. The room was spacious, clean, and comfortable. But apart from the logistics of the hotel and room, the people that work at this Marriott made out stay that much more enjoyable. Rory and KoJo were kind and helpful and humored our son with high-fives, fake boxing, and jokes. They, along with Amanda in Concierge, also directed us towards what to see, where to eat, and how to get there. They remembered us, asked us about our day, and again, humored my little man. Every single employee we encountered in that hotel was beyond helpful. We will definitely be returning to that hotel.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria was amazing. It’s a family owned restaurant on the 800 block of State Street that offers tasty food and a comfortable, quaint environment. Inside, family pictures decorate the walls of the restaurant. The first night we ate there, we had the Chicago-style deep dish pizza with cheese bread and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The second time, we ordered delivery (again, pizza and cheese bread), and it was just as delicious as the first. The third time we ate there, we had a salad, burger, and a beef sandwich. Just as good.

As soon as we land, my son says: I miss Chicago. And I agree, though it is nice to be home. Until the next time.

For the love of flying

Today I got to live flying in an airplane through the eyes of my son, and it made me happy. There’s something wondrous about embarking on something new with a child who is old enough to understand what is going on around him but who isn’t old enough to understand what, if any, dangers lurk in that adventure. At four (and going-on-fourteen…), his biggest fears are the dark, monsters, shadows, and the mystery eyeball (still trying to figure that one out)—he knows nothing about plane crashes, so there’s no reason for the fear to take hold of him.

I’m thankful for that because it lets him truly enjoy this miracle of flying.

I love flying, from the speeding up in the runway to the lifting, when I feel the changes in pressure as I marvel at the city below me growing smaller and smaller until the clouds envelop me and I feel close to the edges of the earth. I also love the landing, when the world below grows larger until we jerk forward as the tires touch the pavement.

Do I get nervous? Of course. My godparents passed away in an airplane crash in January of 1990. I was ten. And since then, I remember hearing of plane crashes and seeing the movie based on Eastern’s crash in the Everglades. I know that it can happen, so of course I get nervous. But I also know car crashes happen and that we are less likely to experience a plane accident than we are a car one.

One of the things I refuse to do, though, is let fear reign me.  I’ve been on the verge of it, for other reasons, and I hate feeling like that.  I’m immobilized, with the weight of impending doom suffocating me until I make the superhuman effort to wrestle that beast out and think of other things, happy things.

And I pray. Whatever resistance I may have with religion, I am still spiritual and I have a strong faith in God and to Him I pray.

Throughout this ride today, on our way to the airport (“Are we there yet?”), as we checked-in our luggage (“Where are they taking our stuff?”) and passed through the security (“Cool!”), boarded the plane, and took off (“That.Was.Awesome!”), I explained what was happening. His excitement was contagious. I hope that excitement never fades and he still finds this adventure as “amazing” and “awesome” as he did today.