I’m encouraged by stories of reemergence because sometimes strength or purity can be born through burning. At the suggestion of J’s cousins, we took an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River and heard stories about the tall glass, steel, and concrete buildings all along the river—products after the fire. It was unfortunate that some of the city burned because someone supposedly knocked over a lantern, but I wonder what Chicagoland would have looked like if it never encountered a fire. Rose and Rick’s house would still be there, on the other side of the river, but would Chicago still have petitioned to host the World’s Fair in 1893? Would the city still have its distinct surrounding neighborhoods? Would it still have the same colorful arts & culture, with the alleyway art shows and intimate blues clubs? I’m not sure, especially since I’ve only experienced a small portion. There’s still way too much to see. I’ll eventually crave that springtime chill and come back; it will only be a matter of time before I start to feel too comfortable in this balmy, gold-lit, SoCal.
Chicago welcomed us with overcast skies and a light drizzle, eventually building up to a torrential downpour by nightfall. We spent our week with J’s cousin Rose, and her husband, Rick, both of whom live on the second floor of a creaky and endearing split-level home in Bridgeport. They told us this house survived the Great Chicago Fire because the neighborhood was located on the other side of the river. The noticeable slant in the floor and the ancient squeaks from the weathered wood revealed the house’s maturity upon walking to the guest bedroom, something Rick humorously pointed out to us.
I am a little ambivalent towards packing. While I pride myself in the ability to pack a week’s worth of outfits into a backpack, I am by no means a minimalist packer. It’s always the miscellaneous items, like the curling iron, book, or computer making my luggage-carrying experience teeter between tolerable and trip-ruining heaviness. I’ve learned there are some things you can do without, and that you can always post-process your photos at home. Little things like maintaining and sharing an items list with on Evernote maintain my sanity at the beginning and ending of a trip. Although I’m okay with trying to figure out how much mileage I can get from wearing the same shirt, There are a few things I can’t leave without, no matter how long or short the trip.