Sunday, October 17, 2010

Country Mouse, City Mouse

I had an RNC study course in Chicago this weekend and since it fell over Ross' fall break, he came too. I can't believe neither of us has been here! I read There Are No Children Here in high school and thought the entire city sounded terrifying: loud, dirty, and dangerous. But a tourist can be selective (and naive). The parts of Chicago we saw were indeed loud and crowded, but they seemed busy with a purpose and crowded as an art.

Cairo and St. Louis are my only "big city" experiences, and even then I relied on others to know where we were going and how to get there. I don't love public transportation. My lungs rebel from the high pollution levels. But Ross? Ross was in heaven the minute we set foot in the O'Hare airport. He loved the El. He loved the rumble of the trains, the exposed steel rails, the endless skyscrapers. He loved being lost in a big city. I needed a map and orientation at all times. And lots of hand sanitizer.

When I was little, I pretended I was Laura Ingalls Wilder and loved running through tall grass in my "Laura" bonnet and blue muslin dress. When Ross was little, he loved Bot Wars and building skyscrapers out of Legos.

I was so excited to find a garden in the middle of the city.

Ross walked ahead and pretended not to know me when I did anything touristy.

Friday night, we were sitting in the shuttle after about an hour of traveling from downtown to our hotel (a trek that involved taking the Blue Line train through a dozen stops and then getting out to wait for the shuttle to pick us up) and I was staring at the cars out the window. Ross turned to me and said, "If we lived here, I don't think I'd even want a car!" I replied, "That's funny. I was just thinking how much I missed my car." I may hate driving in traffic, but I do love the fact that millions of people haven't sat where I'm sitting when I'm in the driver's seat.

It's shocking how opposite we are sometimes. Millenium Park and the surrounding public spaces made a good compromise. I loved the open space. Ross loved the accessible skyline.

Fortunately, Ross had lots of time to play city slicker while I sat in a conference room every morning. When we met up in the afternoons, it was so fun to watch him talk animatedly about the skyscraper tours he took that day. Oh yes, that's plural. He didn't even scratch the surface of available tours. I love my little city mouse!

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