I have been to Chicago twice in my lifetime. Once with a Methodist minister seeking relief from migraine headaches, and once with a friend from high school. Chicago, just like Frank Sinatra said, is my kind of town.
While the trip to Chicago with the minister was interesting enough, the trip with a friend was nothing short of miraculous.
We had both been to university. We both had jobs doing this or that. And, we both happened to be in Asheville, NC.
Over lunch at some upscale fast food joint, we discussed Chicago. Chicago and the Cubs. While we admitted life was good, my friend mentioned his desire to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
Perhaps because we were young, or maybe because we had few responsibilities, we came up with a plan. The plan was to fly to Chicago for a night, see a game, and come home.
We stood atop the Sears tower, we ate hot dogs, and sure enough, we saw a Cubs game.
There are a lot of reasons this is one of my favorite memories, but the possibility of it all, remains in my mind years later.
They Are All My Kind of Town
Before Chicago, I travelled to Lusaka in Zambia. Miami, Seattle, Memphis, Denver, Kingston in Jamaica, Dallas, Ketchikan, DC, London, New York, and others. I loved everyone of them.
Every city in the world, at least the ones that I have visited, has some redeeming quality. Every city has some great person doing some great thing.
What is most beautiful? Most people believe they need to leave their town to experience better. Especially young people.
It was true when I was growing up, and it is true of those I speak with now. But it is not so.
My travels continued later in life. Some for business, and some for pleasure seeking with my family.
Whenever I arrive in a town, I turn on the local news (sparingly), look out my hotel window, and send love.
Sure, that sounds weird. I understand it is not normal. But even under the most strained visits, that love has never failed to return before I leave a place.
Upon arriving home, I do the same thing. The grass is never greener, but it is always green. Even in Red Rock Canyon, where there is little grass at all.
Is Chicago My Kind of Town
It is. Chicago is my kind of town and they are all my kind of town.
In the middle of a pandemic, what good does it do to talk about traveling? What help is it to dream of places yet to be seen?
I have one response. Athens. That is to say, Athens, Tennessee.
Athens is a small town and I have visited several times. They have their troubles, but they also have a college, great people, and an unmatched compassion for each other (most days).
What Athens had a few years ago, was two friends, from Chicago.
Feasting With the Bears
Being from Chicago, my friends were Bears fans. Always loving the Steelers, I had to let that slide.
My wife and I were invited to a birthday party for their son which was to include a cookout. For some reason, other attendees could not come, but we made the trip.
There was so much food. So much food and so much fun.
The question becomes, “were we in Athens, or were we in Chicago?” I believe it was both.
Those friends eventually moved further away, but I am certain of two things. They most likely still love the Bears, and a piece of Chicago is carried with them wherever they go.
It’s a Small World
I am lucky enough to speak with people from several continents, states, and cities. Every person I encounter informs my decision to be positive about this world.
Some of my friends bemoan technology as if it will usher in an oppressive new world order, but I tend to think about it differently.
Not only does technology make the world a smaller place from your living room, it makes it smaller with regard to travel. When it all settles down, take a look around, and go where you want to go.
There really is no need to put off your desire to see different parts of the world. It helps you. It helps others. Not only can it be done, it can be done easily.
There Is Beauty Where You Are
Whether you live in a Brooklyn high rise, or on a farm in South Dakota, there is beauty where you are. I suspect, that wherever you are, it is my kind of town.
If you are looking for adventure, start by taking a different route to work. By asking your spouse, your child, your workmate, something about their life you may not know.
Spend a little more time appreciating what got you, to here, and you will find ways of taking your light, to there.
One of the best ways to be grateful, is also one of the best ways to be an encouragement.
Be as happy for others as much as for yourself. When you see a picture on social media, like the crap out of it. When you hear your neighbor tell a fun story, encourage them to share more.
There is beauty where you are, because you are where you are.
One day we can all get together for a day or two, but for now, enjoy where life has led you. We could all be doing a lot worse.
Obligatory Pitching of the Products
Enjoy your world. If you find you cannot enjoy your world, change your world.
Order the good wine, eat dessert first, and don’t let the bastards get you down.