Technically, this was my fourth time in Chicago, but I have never actually gotten to see anything or explore because we are always there for Riot Fest, and that’s a three day music festival which doesn’t really allow for tourism time. I’ve never even had a chance to see the Bean in person!
So I was really happy when Henry agreed to leave a day earlier for the Taeyang concert so that we would have a full day on Saturday to actually walk around downtown Chicago like fuckin’ tourists, man.
First, we explored the Bahá’í Temple, and then we checked into our hotel, the Chicago Loop Hotel, which was…downtown but not downtown? I don’t know. I don’t feel like looking at a map right. I can tell you that it was about a 10 minute ride on the L to get to the main attractions in downtown Chicago, though.
The hotel was way nicer than I expected though, after three straight years of staying in the grodiest “hotel” for Riot Fest, so shady that it had a different name all three times. It was definitely one of the nicer rooms Frugal Father has put us up in, and Chooch and I were both impressed. I do this thing where I’m like, “I don’t care if we have to stay in a freaking hostel, I just need to get to [x city] for [x concert]!” but really I’m like, “Please god at least let it be three stars.”
We chilled in the room long enough for me to have a wardrobe change and just chill out for 30 minutes or so. Chooch turned on the TV just in time for me to cry my fucking face off at the tail end of “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Chooch asked me what the movie was even about and as soon as I tried to give him a synopsis, my throat got all closed up and I started sobbing.
It’s just emotion that’s taken me over
Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul
Sorry. Bee Gees breakdown.
And guess what we had to walk through to get to the L station?!
Fucking Chinatown, man! What luck!
Ah, the wonderful smells and sights of Chinatown! One of the ice cream places on my list was actually in Chinatown, and I had just spotted it across the street when suddenly Chooch started screaming, “MOMMY! KPOP!” and I was like….
“WHAT OMG LET’S GO!!” and Henry was all, “….um, that looks closed. Come on, keep walkin—-” but I was already jay-walking across the street and wrenching the door open.
SORRY HENRY THIS JOINT IS OPEN.
It did kind of look closed though. And not just “closed for the day” but “closed for life.” Why were the windows so dark, like a sex shop!?
This place wasn’t as friendly as the store we visited in Toronto, but it was still like walking into a life-sized diorama of my heart. Glorious kpop was floating out of the store’s speakers while a TV mounted to the wall played the accompanying MVs. Teenaged fangirls were running amok, scooping up every item that featured their biases: pillows, socks, piggybanks. I found a Running Man pillow that I really wanted but it was $25 and kind of small, so I decided that Henry will just have to get a sewing machine and make his own k-pillows.
Ugh, I hate how expensive kpop merch is! We did stop back the next day though and I bought a BIGBANG coffee cup. Chooch got some dumb cat change purse, which was entirely unrelated to kpop but OK.
A few blocks later, we arrived at the Cermak/Chinatown L station. I got all clenched up and nervous because public transportation is so confusing to me. Luckily, Henry can read a map with colored lines on it and use common sense to figure out which line to get on and where to get off, while Chooch and I just stood there and stared at people like Amish kids out on Rumspringa.
After Henry purchased our tickets, Chooch and I made asses of ourselves trying to get through the gate thing and one of the CTA workers had to come over and help. Chicago is hard!
The ride into town was relatively painless though. It wasn’t too crowded for a Saturday afternoon and no one was particularly shifty.
Then when we got off the L, Chooch fell when he was trying to race Henry up the station steps. This would be the first of many Chicago injuries for your boy Chooch.
Anyway, we made it downtown and emerged from the underground which Chooch got all giggly about because THIS IS WHAT A REAL CITY FEELS LIKE SON. None of that quaint Pittsburgh shit. I can basically walk the perimeter of downtown Pittsburgh on my lunch break, and nothing makes it feel more small than coming back to it after a weekend in a city like Chicago or Toronto. Sigh. I still love you, Pittsburgh. The Tiny Tim of US cities.
What happened next was that we walked to Millenium Park to see the Bean…
…but first we stopped to admire these kooky water fountains first which I actually loved way more than the Bean…
So creepy and beautiful all at once.
There was a jazz festival happening in the park so that added to the crowd. Typically I balk at large crowds of humans but the people there weren’t being pushy and it didn’t make me feel like I was suffocating, so we forged on, closer to the Bean.
This was when we started experience inter-familiar breakdown though, mostly between me and Chooch, because he wasn’t cooperating with me and he was making the act of snapping a family Bean reflection selfie excruciatingly frustrating, and then accused of us trying to LOSE HIM at one point so I threw a tantrum and yelled about just going back to the hotel and that everyone could kindly fuck off into the sun.
But then I thrusted my phone into Henry’s chest and told him to deal with it, so he took a picture of the three of us like it was the simplest act in the world, and then we agreed that it was time for Chooch and me to feed our demons before they caused our heads to rotate…