I was beginning to wonder if spending extra time in Chicago was worth it. You see, the History Bee invited us old interns to help out at their national event in Chicago. ‘Twas a free trip sans the chilling temperatures, this time, so why not? Plus, reunion! When I informed my supervisor that I’d be taking a few days off in June for such and such, he suggested that, hey, why not just take the whole week off to explore the city before the event? You know what, Kevin? I thought… I may do just that. So, there I was, browsing Couchsurfing profiles and rooms on Airbnb. Harrison had plenty reviews and his apartment-turned-hostel seemed alright, the Pink Line existed just a few blocks away, and few, if any, other places within my budget screamed, hey! I’m the stranger with whom you should stay for a few days. Besides, there was a free gospel concert in Millennium Park, Israel would also be in the city before his return to Brazil, and there’d be salsa dancing at some place, somewhere, right? With those thoughts, I’d quasi-convinced myself.
No sooner had I booked 4 nights at Harrison’s place than I began to question my decision. I made it to the apartment just fine (Harrison gave clear directions), but was having second thoughts. Little Village wasn’t as I had expected, and, though short, the walk from the Kedzie station was not the most reassuring at night. But then Annie and I found a way to the roof , the next day, and things seemed a bit better from up there – thanks be to the ladder and to the neighbor who told us where to find it. When Charlotte was later convinced to climb up, our photographs took a creative turn. One of them would find its way in a picture frame above Harrison’s fridge, surprising the recipient, much to our enjoyment. He’d never thought to go up there, much less find the way in which to do it. Then, Nina from down the hall soon joined the ranks of cool Airbnb guests, and one day just fed into the other.
Downtown Chicago twinkled in the evening, the SkyDeck was not so scary, actually, and Target, despite being in a different city and state, brought comfort and familiarity. The $12 fee for non-Chicago residents to the Museum of Contemporary Art was suggested, but the man behind the desk did not mention the word suggested. Luckily, I had done my homework and inserted the word where the man seemed to have left it out. Y’all gon’ take these 5 dollars…
And after all that talk about salsa dancing, you know what? We danced. What joy it brought a heart longing for Latin rhythms to move to these tunes by the beach. Chicago, I hoped to return in warmer weather, and thanks to the History Bee, it happened.