I had written earlier about discovering some of the comforts of home here in Chicago. Whether that includes Cajun dancing in Grant park with Bridget Lyons or shouting “geaux tigers” to a fellow pedestrian wearing LSU apparel, realizing that you can find a little bit of home is certainly nice.
And then there are the times when home purposely comes to meet up with you via an Amtrak. Enter the family: Paul, Jan and Luke Sr.
It didn’t feel like I hadn’t seen them in seven weeks, but as soon as I met them in the grand atrium of Union Station, I knew it must have felt much longer for them. They greeted me with a big (and apparently long-awaited) hug and told me about their train ride. Not getting much sleep, the three of them were eager to get to the hotel. If I were spending four nights at the Hotel Sax-Chicago, I would be eager to get there too. I, however, had to get back to work, so after helping them to a taxi, I walked back to PepsiCo, which is a convenient one-block walk from Union Station.
After resting a bit (under goose-feather comforters, no doubt) the folks visited me at the office. Not knowing their way around the city, it became my role to navigate them through the complex bus and “L” lines. After meeting my supervisors, Paul and I ran to get their transit passes. So they were set for the next four days.
My poor parents, I’m sure they were worn out by the end of their trip. Mom told me that they slept a lot better on the way back, probably because they were so exhausted. But with only five days to see as much of the city as possible, the days were just packed
This was the itinerary:
-Top of Sears Tower
-Museum of Science and Industry
-Dinner with Bridget
-Zydeco at Grant Park (the folks were relaxing at this point, they were worn out)
-Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Madison
-Oak Park/Frank Lloyd Write Studio
-Wrigley Field for pictures (folks skipped this one too)
-Michigan Avenue (Paul and I did some exploring, particularly the old water tower and the Tribune Tower)
Monday, I had to return to work, by Mom, Pop and Paul continued exploring. They went to Merchandise Market, the Old Water Tower, Millennium Park and the Field Museum. I joined them for their last dinner in the city. We then hailed a taxi, grabbed their luggage from the hotel, and head back to Union Station. We hugged and said goodbye at the same gate I passed through back in January, and before long I was on my own again in the city.
Their trip up here was good for me; it allowed me to play tourist and really appreciate the beauty and richness of the city. Also, planning out their daily bus and train routes really allowed me to familiarize myself with the routes as well. Soon, I was easily answering other tourists’ directional queries like a local.
For the folks to receive a first-hand witness to day-to-day life up here, I think it calmed their apprehensions of their last little birdie leaving the nest. Hell, I’m making it in a major metropolitan area. I never saw that as a challenge, but that doesn’t change the fact that I did it.
Most importantly though, it was enjoyable to have a family vacation, the first real one in a long time. With Paul cris-crossing the state with his job, me always in Baton Rouge, and other assorted obligations, the times spent with my family are suddenly few and far between, most likely to become fewer and further between. Nevertheless, we explored the city together, building nothing but good memories.
Mom, Pop and Paul, I really hope I was a good little host and a fairly good navigator. I’m glad you came up here and I hope you three enjoyed yourselves. See you in three weeks.