I Left My Heart...in Chicago.


Confession: I am profoundly envious of the people who get to hang out on sailboats during summertime.  Especially those traveling up and down the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan. Blasting their radios. Beer in hand. All smiles. Sparing a wave for those of us drooling along the Riverwalk as we watch them.

Anyone who knows me--knows about my crazy love of Chicago. But this other love of mine, I don't talk about nearly as much: my love of bodies of water, my dream of being on a sailboat, my hopes of one day sailing on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

In years past, I've taken my share of river/lake cruises. As a former manager of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's tour department, I once took over 20 river cruises in a single year alone. But sailing on an actual sailboat has always seemed so elusive. I mean, who ARE these people? How did they afford that boat? Are they just renting it? Must the women always be wearing bikinis?? I've vowed to someday, somehow, be the girl waving from the sailboat (albeit, wearing a muumuu).

The Dream will have to wait awhile. There are health issues. Money issues. Life-in-general issues. But the wonderful gift I received this past week--was incentive to keep the Dream alive.

This past week, I took a last-minute trip with a family member to San Francisco. She has some family friends who own a 37-foot sailboat--and sail pretty much every week on the San Francisco Bay. What I thought would be my first outing on a sailboat turned out to be my first time sailing (as in, me at the helm of the boat for the majority of our seven-hour sailing expedition). Yes, I am still on Cloud Nine.

Shortly after setting off, Captain John had asked me if I wanted to take the reins. I did. I thought I'd do a few spins of the wheel and sit right back down. But once you realize that you're actually capable of maneuvering a sailboat in the midst of some sizable winds--and you realize that it may be a long time before you get to board a sailboat again, you pretty much don't want to let go of that wheel. (For the record, Captain John told me that he'd give me an "A+", but I'm not one to brag…)

As I sailed, I took in the splendor of the San Francisco Bay and all of its gems (Angel Island, the skyline, the ballpark before the Giants game…). I was immeasurably grateful for the experience.  I got verklempt later on as I contemplated the awesomeness of what had transpired--but when I thanked Captain John and his wife Lyn, somehow I was able to keep it together. I managed to let them know, though, that they'd just made one of my lifelong dreams become reality.

I was proud of myself that day--not only for having sailed the boat--but for having acknowledged the beauty of another city. I have to admit that this was monumental for me-- because in my mind, no place ever compares to Chicago, so it's almost as if I find it unnecessary to bestow praise upon other places. On this day, though, there was no denying the captivating beauty of the city. Being on the water only magnified its magic. It did make me miss Chicago all the more--but that happens to me anywhere, let alone a real metropolis like San Francisco.

When all was said and done, here were my "stats" from Captain John:

-Total trip was 27.6 miles (I sailed about 18 of those miles)

-Course was Brisbane to Tiburon, Angel Island, McCovey Cove, "through the Slot twice", through Candlestick Clauseway, and into Brisbane Marine.

-Winds were blowing between 15 to 22 knots throughout, with small craft warning in Central Bay.

Like I said, a dream come true. I don't think I'll ever recover from it.

And as a kind of parting thought, as we docked back at Brisbane and disembarked, a neighboring boat in its slip happened to catch my eye.  Almost as if it had been placed there intentionally--to remind a certain person of where her heart truly lies…





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