Abby and I have been friends since the first day of our freshman year of high school. Whenever we’re both in St Louis she always comes over and jumps right into the mix with my stepkids and babies. She goes to the big kids’ games and changes the babies’ diapers. Ever since she moved to New York to be a Bronx Defender (she’s a lawyer) I promised I’d go see her on her birthday at least once. I went to New York about 10 times during the three years she was there and she came to see me every time – no matter where I was staying. She’d come to my hotel and we’d watch reruns of something dumb and eat pizza or we’d meet up at a restaurant in whatever neighborhood where I was staying.
Then after three years she moved to Chicago and I realized I never fulfilled my promise and she went above and beyond her non-promise.
So I PROMISED her I’d come to Chicago for her 34th birthday.
Then I went to Florida instead.
But then she moved her party back a week.
But I was in LA.
She said it was fine, it wasn’t a big deal. But I booked a flight to Chicago from LAX to spend about 36 hours with her. (My flight got delayed about four times and I sat down in the only spot available: the floor, next to some tour groups that you’ll read about in a few paragraphs.)
But I flew out on a Sunday night and Abby had to work (for the Federal Judge) on Monday so joke’s on me! Payback!
I told myself I was going to sleep in on Monday and read my book. But I woke up at 6:30am (when Abby woke up) and by 7am I had finished my book. So I decided to walk to Lake Michigan. I started my walk and popped in Starbucks along the way and ordered a coffee – but I forgot my wallet. So I walked back to Abby’s high rise to get my money and head back to Starb’s then the Lake. I get there – kinda, I actually just made it to the highway thats next to the boardwalk that’s next to the beach – but it was windy and seriously, what was I gonna do at a lake in 35 degree weather?
So I called Abby and asked about the Sears Tower. “Sure, sounds good. Go do that, Megh. Anything else?” Turns out she had some laws to make. Rude.
I decided that I was going to walk to the Sears Tower! It was a 2.2 mile walk and a very sunny – albeit extremely brisk – day. (My fellow walkers donned hats and gloves.) I felt adequately dressed in my packable down coat, my brand new Hermes shawl, and… that’s it.
Halfway there I decided this was a bad idea but as I checked my phone to call an Uber I realize my phone won’t work! “Oh wait, no, it works,” I realized. It was just that my fingers were so cold that my touchscreen wouldn’t register that my finger was indeed a real live finger and not the dead hypothermic phalange that was attached to my hand. So walking it was! (The rest of the walk I bitterly cursed all the warm people riding in cars for being so environmentally unaware with their massive carbon footprint. Unlike me who actually cares about our Earth. Hmm hmm. That’s the reason. Absolutely.)
I arrived at the Sears Tower! But it’s actually called the Willis Tower now so get with the times, you old dinosaurs. I took all my tourist pics along with the 27 tour groups mainly comprised of Super-Cool-Teenagers and Photo-Happy-Asians. (And they actually really are always so damn happy, ugh! It’s because they’re laughing at us, that’s it! Ugh again! But… I don’t blame them.)
But I, Meghan – known among more distinguished groups as The Walker – I am way more dignified and refined than these tourists because I have actually been to the Sears – ahem Willis – Tower before. And plus I’ve been to Chicago too many times to count (layovers count! I make the rules!) so take that, all you Super-Cools!
Alas, we all ended up in the same spot. (The Photo-Happies are growing on me but not the Super-Cools. Plus I was definitely way cooler than them in high school. CORRECTION: ABBY HAS INFORMED ME I HAVE A GLARING TYPO IN THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE BUT I DON’T SEE IT.) But the wait to the Sky Deck is two hours because it’s Spring Break and every Super-Cool in Nebraska is in the building. I am not waiting in line for two hours, no way. But, I make good money so I asked, “How much is the fast-pass?” “$75! Are you outta your damn mind?! What chu talkin bout, Willis?!”
I then got in an Uber with no real idea of where I’m going. And it’s an SUV. In the space of 20 minutes (yeah that’s all) I decided I no longer cared about Mother Earth and that global warming has most definitely been fabricated by all those fancy PhD scientists who think they’re soooo smart. Plus, anyone could have a PhD from Harvard if they actually cared. Yeah, yeah, that’s right, that’s so right. “Take me away, my Denali chariot!”
I found a ghost/mobster walking tour of Chicago and buy the ticket. As I saw the walking tour group begin to gather (they were hard to miss: most were dressed, well, slovenly, and not runway-sloven.) I started to come to grips with the fact that I. AM. ACTUALLY. ONE. OF. THEM. As I came into my discovery I rubbed my Hermes shawl for security and comfort. <(Footnote: The security part in the previous sentence was actually just the opposite as I thought about how I was the only one in the group who was alone – in one of the most dangerous cities in America – and wearing something worth more than $4.99.)> I digress. All Hermes shawls aside I actually was excitedly, consciously, and willingly drawn to this tour: I’m a huge nerd. “I, MKE, am a huge nerd.” I said it, it’s real. I never saw myself like this before. Who needs to go to church for enlightenment when you can just go on a ghost/mobster tour of Chicago in 35 degree weather?
The walking tour was morbid. I don’t know what I expected, either, because one does have to actually die to become a ghost. And mobsters aren’t exactly on the neighborhood watch boards. So now I’m bummed.
So I drank! Because I obviously had a good reason, why wouldn’t I drown my sorrow in a martini? I needed to pour some out for my dead homies on the ghost/mobster tour to relieve this situational depressive episode. This day had been full of unhealthy rationalizations so why stop now! At least I was at the swanky Cindy’s and I (FINALLY) had a nice view. Plus there’s quite a few drinkers there at 3pm. They must all have problems, I haughtily deduced. Unlike me, who was only drinking because I had a good reason.
Abby met me there and I finally feel validated and all is good in the world.
We went to dinner with an even older friend (but he’s younger than both of us) of ours at the fantastic RPM Steak. (My dear friend, Giuliana Rancic, is the “R” in RPM and hooked me up with the reservation and some Giuliana Prosecco – YUM. I’m name dropping to earn my cool points back, is it working??) Holy cow. This is the meal I imagined and then some. It was a fantastic, fun, and WARM, evening with great friends, old stories, and mouth-watering food and drink. What a way to top off the day!
The next morning I had to fly out. I waited on the street corner for 30 minutes with my luggage – next to a homeless person sleeping under a blanket that I thought was just a blanket until it moved and I saw a head and a leg – while three, yes THREE, Ubers cancelled on me. Did I mention there was a light drizzle? I was really getting the full Chicago weather experience during my quick trip.
I made it home uneventfully from there.
And that, my dearest Abigail, is my ode to how much I love you. Happy 20 year anniversary, next time you’re paying for the honeymoon.