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    « And Then It Does | Main | On The Road! Probably. Hopefully. »

    Chicago. As Much Fun As Could Be Had In A Day.

    It was a crazy idea:  drive 525 miles to attend a show with three kids.  But crazy was just what we were up for.

    We left later than I would have liked on Friday while my car was in the shop but we finally hit the road and Reagan got to spend much of her 17th birthday in the car.  Probably not her ideal day, but worth it once we got there.

    We don’t live in a small town, but it’s a far cry from the size and splendor of Chicago.  It’s been so long since I was in a big city downtown area that I forgot a few things.

    Like traffic jams at 8:00 p.m.

    And getting lost in a maze of one way streets and hordes of pedestrians.


    Somehow I didn’t think about parking, so when I pulled up to the Hyatt and the valet told me that parking was $55 a night I just stared at him.  My car didn’t need a bed or bathroom.  How on earth was $55 justified?  In the end I used a garage across the street which was only $33 a night.  By that time it seemed like the deal of the century.

    We settled into our room with much excitement on Faith’s part.  Here’s a travel tip for a guaranteed good time:  take Faith with you.  She gets SO excited about everything, you can’t help but get excited with her.

    “Mom! Look!  They gave us free shampoo!”

    “You guys!  Check out the soap!  It’s bumpy!  It’s like massaging soap!”

    “Hey!  There’s a microwave in the closet!”  Her enthusiasm was dampened only slightly when I explained that it wasn’t a microwave, it was a safe.  “Oh.  Well … we have a safe!”

    We ventured out a little that first night to find a place to eat.  The girls weren’t too keen on wandering the streets at night.  They were pretty sure we were going to be attacked at any moment.  They were a little more enthusiastic the next day.

    I looked up the location of the nearest Forever 21 and discovered it was a mere .3 miles from our hotel.  That was all that Reagan and her friend, Marissa needed to know.  We headed down Michigan Avenue passing street performers and fellow shoppers to find nirvana:

    A Forever 21 with three levels of shopping.  It was everything that two seventeen year old girls could hope for.

    Faith and I, however, hoped for more so we left them there.  Thank heavens we did because those two were in there for an hour and a half.  Meanwhile, I dragged Faith through some boring stored like The Gap and she made me wait while she tried on every pair of stiletto platform shoes that she came across in her size.

    Which was a lot of shoes.

    And I said “no” to each and every pair which did not discourage her a bit.  “But Mom, I can walk just fine in them, see?” she pleaded over and over.  To which I would say, “You are eleven.  You are not getting those shoes.  Just enjoy being eleven please.”

    Insert eye roll here.

    When Reagan and Marissa finally made it out of Forever 21, we met up for lunch at a hot dog place because apparently if you’re in Chicago you have to eat hot dogs? and pizza?  We never got to the pizza, but the hot dogs were good.

    Then the shopping continued.  Traveling with teenage girls is easy.  They don’t want museums or monuments or zoos or wonders of architecture.  They want retail and that is all.  So that’s what we did all afternoon, until Faith and I collapsed on a sofa in Anthropologie. 

    I called it quits and we found a table in The Grand Lux Cafe where I had a very delicious Spicy Calamari Salad which I did not photograph.

    Then it was back to the hotel to get dressed for the main event:  Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson Immortal show.

    We caught a cab to the United Center and Faith was about as excited about that as anything else.  It was her first cab ride and it did not disappoint.  The heavily accented driver wove in and out of traffic in defiance of all written laws and nearly mowed over several hapless pedestrians.

    Yet we arrived in one piece.  

    Someone commented on that photo that Faith is getting very tall.  She is, but not as much as you’d think.  Two elements are at play in this picture:

    1) Marissa is very petite.

    2) Faith is wearing gladiator style sandals with 3 inch wedge heels.  I finally caved at Nordstrom Rack and let her get them.  But they aren’t stilettos!

    Then we bought an overpriced t-shirt, took a pass on the $4.50 bottles of water and found our seats. 

    We had a really good view of the stage but I didn’t photograph the show because you’re not supposed to and I’m a rules girl.

    However, plenty of other people are not so you can check youtube if you’re dying to see it.  I will say that it was a completely amazing show.  The sets were mind-blowing and the dancing was world class.  Then there was the stuff Cirque is famous for like a contortionist and acrobats all set to Michael Jackson’t music.  I loved every minute.  It was so much fun!

    But the evening wasn’t over…

    We were told that there is always a line of cabs waiting after shows at the United Center so we walked out to hail one.

    Aaaaaaand didn’t see any.  

    So we walked a few blocks.  Still no cabs.  Just lots and lots of other people who were also expecting to find a taxi.  We waited and we called and we waited some more and then … a white stretch limo pulled up and the driver popped out and offered to drive us where we needed to go.

    For a fee of course, but at that point, we weren’t going to quibble.  So we joined up with another group headed to the same area of town and drove off.

    Faith about died of bliss.

    I think Reagan and Marissa were pleased too, but were much too cool to gush like Faith did.

    “Aaaaahhhh!  Look!  There are drinks!” (Nevermind the empty beer cans, she grabbed a bottle of water.)

    “And look!  The lights blink! And they change colors!” she yelled pointing to the decorative track lighting.  The driver, who also owned the limo, was quite taken with this enthusiastic fan of his car. He drove us around after he dropped off the other people, extending Faith’s happiness.  He even opened the sun roof so she could stand up and put her head out.


    And ok, fine.  I stood up too.

    But just to take her picture.  

    And wave at a few people.  

    And let out a “woo-hoo!” 

    But it was Faith’s fault.  I’m telling you - that kind of enthusiasm is contagious.

    It was a great day full of great memories and totally worth the seventeen hour round trip to get there.

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    Reader Comments (13)

    Love it! What a great memory!

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

    Looks like such a fun day (and night!). I love Chicago and cities in general. I heard a slightly shocking statistic recently about how many people every week end up in NYC emergency rooms because they're not belted in the cabs and get smacked into the plexiglass between the front and back seat. Oftentimes there isn't a belt or it doesn't work but mostly people feel a little invincible in a cab.

    Glad you made your way home in style! Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

    How stinkin fun is that! I don't know if I could have kept up with y'all and that shopping though. I am more of the museum kind of gal myself. As for the limo ride, that is just plan amazing. I too, in my day, have stood up in a limo but never in the "bright lights and big city" like y'all did. So glad you were able to make these memories!

    Fantastic!!!! Despite the reputation, Chicago is a pretty safe city even at night and some of the friendliest people around. Glad you found an awesome LImo driver and had a good time. :)

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

    Wow what fun...I love Chicago. I'd go with Miss Faith any day! That sweet girl knows how to have a joy filled time! p.s.I would have given anything to see the two of you hanging out the roof of the limo :)

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

    Tears of joy and happiness right now! I love that you did this with your girls and I love that you all had a great trip. You deserved thisnall. I think the next girls trip should be Vegas! Take me with you!

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

    I'm jealous, because this? Looks awesome!

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrysHouse

    How FUN! I love your hair-it looks snazzy in the picture.

    July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Lumberjack's Wife

    What a GREAT trip!

    July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

    Wow, so many fun memories made! And the limo ride??? How cool... I am impressed you joined Faith out the sunroof... She will remember that forever!

    After spending 3 1/2 hours following Allison around a mere two story forever 21 and in the end only buying two tank tops, a belt and a nail polish... I have a new rule... Thirty minutes maximum time or bring a friend with you... Not only is the music mind numbing, but they layout of that store is totally infuriating... I know this makes me sound old, and I can live with that! But you are right about traveling with girls, and this bugs my husband, but all they want to do is shop and if we don't plan for one day of it there will be mutiny!

    July 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca d

    You know, the more I thought about this, the more I realized that Faith sounds very much like the Mindee that I knew in college. At first I laughed through your story, delighted with Faith's exuberance and asked myself, "So, where does this cute girl get her joie de vivre??" And then I hearkened back our UOP days and I remember you being every bit as chipper, totally enthusiastic for every new adventure and always ready to laugh and smile. I'd say she sounds just like her mother!! :)

    And truly, it sounds like such a wonderful girl's trip. Cherish those memories!

    July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLori

    My life is more complete because I get to read your writing again. That limo ride was the cherry on top. I LOVE it! I was like Faith when I was little. It's not so becoming on a 47 year old but that doesn't stop me.

    Okay, that trip was so awesome! A limo ride back to the hotel? You clearly know how to travel in style.

    Also? I still do that with stilettos when I go shopping. And, sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly silly, I'll buy some. Though, to this very date, I've never actually worn any of them, as I'm far too lazy to practice wearing them around the house and far too clumsy to not seriously hurt myself by practice wearing them in daily life.

    August 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan (Best of Fates)

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