There’s a Texas saying for non-natives: “I wasn’t born in the great state of Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.” Having lived in Chicago after moving from Houston, my alliances have shifted. I work in the insane world of theater and rarely have the time to appreciate our city. This Labor Day weekend I had my first staycation with my sister-in-law and her husband from Dallas. The best part about their visit was that I got to experience Chicago through the inspired eyes of my 3 ½ year old nephew. I played chauffeur so they didn’t have to drive, and over the 6 days, we partook in more Chicago offerings than my wife and I have in the past decade. Here’s a brief summary by the numbers:
Total meals: 15
Foods eaten: Japanese, Chicago deep dish, Korean, Southern (South east comfort, Texas, and Forrest Gump themed), Thai (Northern & Southern), Chicago hot dogs, Vietnamese, Lincoln park cupcakes and Bucktown homemade frozen custard.
Zoos attended: 2
Suburbs visted: 3+
Hidden Bali Temples passed: 1
Summer block busters watched: 1
Water parks visited: 1
2 hour parking charges: Roughly $50
Miles driven: 100+
Steps walked chasing a 3.5 year old: many
Architectural tours taken: 2 (one by land, one by sea, (ok-river)
Historic Ferris wheel rides: 1
Chicago land marks witnessed: Navy Pier, the “bean”, Millennium park, Wrigley Field, Lake Shore Drive, The Mag Mile, Chicago Botanical Conservatory, numerous hoboes and the infamously out of place iconic Marilyn Monroe statue.
My nephew was blown away by the greatness of our fair city. Everything he saw was “amazing”, “cool” or simply just “wow”. To him, every bridge we crossed led to some enchanted place while every train track served as a magic time travel passageway. Watching him absorb it all made me to realize how much I take Chicago for granted. If you think about it, every track really does take us back in time, while on the other side of most bridges really is something cool and unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Through his eyes, and mine, the best way to describe Chi-town really is “WOW”.
About the author: Sean Mallary is a lighting designer who dabbles in writing short plays and personal essays. He is a Chicago transplant where he lives with his wife, a cat and 2 Quaker parrots. Find him at www.seanmallarylighting.com.