1.13.2014

Together - Part 1: Chicago

Our little excursion into the delightfully frigid winds of the North began with our trip to Chicago, but the beginning is honestly a blur for me.  See, our flight was at one of those ridiculously early hours of the morning, so, just to be safe, I didn't sleep at all.  I remember Brandon telling me how uneasy he felt when we got to security, 'cause he assumed my necklace or earrings would set the alarms off; and then I remember repeatedly sleeping-and-waking on the plane, until we finally saw the snow, lights, and water of Chicago.

But that's it.

I have absolutely no memory of what Chicago's airport looked like.  I have no memory of riding a taxi or walking to the hotel.  I simply remember that the bed was unbelievably squishy and that our room had very efficient light-blocking shades.

12/28/2013 - Lesson 1: Listen to recommended serving sizes in Chicago.

hubs in the lobby of the hotel
Our story officially kicks in here, where my memory does!  We walked to Giordano's to start our trip with the same pizza that Brandon had had delivered to our home, via dry ice, earlier in the year.  A good wait is expected for things like this and for the actual cooking of the pizza, so they told us that we could order it up front and that it'd cook while we waited.  Neat!  So, we looked at the menu and scoffed, naturally, when it recommended that we order a small for two people, and proceeded to order a medium.  The girl taking the order asked us if we were sure and to be ready to take leftover pizza home if we chose the medium.  I giggled at her innocence and said that there wouldn't be any left to take home.

Well, the pizza was enormous.  We'd eaten two slices each, when we began to feel like we wouldn't make it... and there were still four slices left.  I told Brandon, "that girl over there...she's going to laugh at us and say something catty like 'couldn't finish all your pizza, could you boys?!' in a terribly arrogant Southern accent and then she's gonna make some kind of really nasty face at us!!"  So we pushed on, through the wall, and angrily continued to eat.  Every.  Last.  Bite. We weren't about to let some brat tell us that she told us so!
hubs and the starry sky of the Italian Village

The walk back to our hotel room is a blur of pain and anguish.  We slept again, until our bodies didn't hate us, we looked for a place to have a late dinner, and then we fell in love all over again (with each other, as well as with food).  The nearby Italian Village was perfect; the magical atmosphere consisted of a dimly lit room with little lights strung across as if they were stars in the night sky.  After a delicious meal and the most perfect cappuccino I've ever had, we returned to the hotel for the evening.

12/29/2013 - Lesson 2: Relax; even when he says he doesn't have a plan, he probably does.

This was the first time we both stayed in bed and slept in past nine in years (probably 'cause of those efficient shades), but the magic of the first day was a bit more fleeting this day.  It was cold and windy out.  I don't mean it was bundle-up-'cause-it's-chilly-out cold, I mean it was holy-crap-it's-cold-and-there's-nothing-my-face-can-do-to-protect-itself cold.  This wouldn't have come as such as shock to me if, when I asked him where we were going, my lovely husband didn't reply something like "dunno" or "not sure."

I flipped.

And by flipped, I mean, I didn't.  I held it in, quietly, and the smile left my face and then froze that way, as we wandered the town on foot.  I got grumpy and no matter what the poor guy did to try and make me smile, I was frozen in said grumpy-mode and ruined about half the day.  It all came to an incredibly awkward climax when we stopped to eat at this lovely and quaint deli.  See, the place only had two very little wooden tables with two tiny little chairs at each one.  I got the strong feeling that they weren't there for us to eat on, but rather wait at, or something... We sat, I unwrapped my sandwich, and then Brandon asked, "Do you think these tables are for eating?" and I felt the color drain from my face.  It's one thing for me to feel self-conscious about something paranoid in my head, but the moment he felt the same thing, I knew we had to leave.

We immediately returned to the hotel room, where the junk I'd bottled up sort of...poured out.  It was messy.  We both apologized for getting worked up.  We relaxed a while, and then we went out again.  And it's embarrassing how unnecessary all of that weird and awkward negative stuff is and that we let that seep into our vacation/honeymoon stuff, but the fact is that it happened, we made up, and then all was fine again, but I feel it's important that I include that.

Also, in the midst of that awkwardness, we stopped by the Chicago library and I was a bit unimpressed.  We walked up to the main counter on the first (of ten) floors, and I excitedly said, "I'm from Texas and I work in a library, so what do you recommend, what's your favorite thing here, where should we go??" aaaaand he pushed a piece of paper forward and dryly answered with, "well, here's a map of the library."

the disappointing library
And that was it.  I was no longer excited, because he obviously wasn't.  We peeked into the children's section and saw nothing stood out, other than pieces of crafty things they had hanging from the ceiling.  Nothing innovative, nothing even super-colorful.  The teen spaces were more interesting, but they were renovating in there, so it was (understandably) messy and empty.  That was it.  After trying and failing to get an inactive library card, we left.

creepy slow-mo faces
That evening, we had another lovely meal for dinner and then had some fun walking around in the snow across the street from the hotel.  There were enormous columns of light that slow-motioned through random faces.  It was weird.  We liked the bean, of course, and we giggled and pointed out where people had left their dirty hand and foot prints.
the bean at millennium park

12/30/2013 - Lesson 3: Go eat where you'd actually want to eat, 'cause Yelp will take you to annoying hipster places and convince you to eat foods you don't care for.

While we absolutely hit the food-jackpot with places like the magnificent Lou Malnati's, a couple of other places just didn't hit the right buttons.  The Berghoff, for example, was great enough that we went twice, but though I loved my meals, hubs didn't quite fall in love with his; a texture issue, I think he said, which was fine for me, 'cause that just meant I had a little extra food those nights.

The absolute failure when it came to food was The Gage.  I wasn't too hungry, so I skipped straight to a rather dry and unimpressive chocolate dessert, but Brandon ordered the fish and chips, which was hailed by other Yelp users as the thing to get...but it wasn't.  Our disappointment with the place multiplied exponentially when we were sat next to the epitome of pretentiousness.  We already felt severely uncomfortable because our table was so close to the people next to us that I could reach out and touch her face.  Now, though, I had to sit quietly and listen to this lady brag about how her parents live downtown, how she's got a black AMEX card, so there was nothing to worry about, blah blah, money money, and tomorrow, she was gonna go to some sexy party where she'd order the nine-course meal!  WELL, how fabulous for her.  Brandon asked me why I wasn't talking much, and the truth was that I honestly felt we were so physically close to these people, we were basically a part of their conversation and speaking would feel like interrupting her.  It all came together in a neat little package topped of with our waitress pretty much ignoring us the whole time, but being sweet enough to make sure she let our neighbors know that their desserts were on the house.  Cute.

12/31/2013 - Lesson 4: Make sure your destination is open on New Year's Eve before braving a blizzard.

'Cause ours wasn't.  It was ok, though.  We genuinely had a good time laughing about this little oversight of ours and weren't in any hurry to make it anywhere.  In fact, I absolutely love that we didn't have New Year's plans.  We relaxed and snuggled into that squishy bed in the hotel a few hours before it started to get crazy (read: annoying) and had a great time laughing with Kathy and Anderson.  I got a bit sentimental around midnight and Facetimed with the family.  This meant that we waived hello at everyone while the cellphone got passed around and squished into tons of hugs.  It wasn't classy, but it was nice to see everyone during the happy moment.

I'd like to say that the night ended in those peaceful moments of the night, but we were staying in a hotel in downtown Chicago, where the largest party in the city was taking place downstairs.  The local TV station showed us images of said inane party 14 floors below us, and aaaaall of those hooligans had nowhere to go but up.  It was a Hilton, and yet we were awakened many times by the yelling of youngsters and glass breaking directly outside our door, but we eventually managed to get back to sleep and revel in the knowledge that they might one day die of alcohol poisoning.

And so concludes our last night in Chicago.  Next time: starstruck and hitched!

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