We left early on Friday afternoon, it takes roughly 3 hours for us to get to downtown Chicago from where we live so we had a nice little ride to wind down from work/kids and settle into the vacation mind set. Only, about half hour out from Chicago, I was still panicking. Like we only had X-amount of time to spend doing whatever we wanted and WE COULDN’T WASTE ANY OF IT. I felt uptight, not relaxed.
All I wanted to do was be lazy, not to have to think or clean or cook. I wanted to do whatever I wanted. But I kept thinking of all the things we SHOULD be doing in order for it to feel like vacation.
Shows. Movies. Expensive dinners.
We got to the condo and settled in and looked around, unpacked a bit, ogled the decks out back and then set out to get lost.
We were near Wells St and Old Town Chicago and ended up at a great pub with a beer garden for appetizers and drinks. Aaron bring’s this satchel with him where ever he goes, always carrying a book or magazine and his mole skin for taking notes or sketching. I decided not to take anything on our stroll and when we sat down at the table, he leisurely got out his magazine and ignored me until our drinks came.
I say it like that because I was still not relaxing. Aaron clearly was.
And thats when I decided to stop it. To let this weekend be whatever it was going to be. I couldn’t keep making it something it wasn’t. It probably wasn’t going to be an action packed Chicago weekend full of touristy stuff. Or broadway shows. Or comedy clubs. It wasn’t going to include bike tours or the Navy Pier. It almost didn’t even include Michigan Ave.
I didn’t bring my huge DSLR camera and for creative outlets all weekend I was armed with my iPhone camera as an external eye … and my own eyes. My own feet. My taste buds.
It revolutionized the way I see vacation. Especially destination specific getaways. There’s always this little demon that makes me feel like a failure if we didn’t have the FULL experience any city has to offer. Their Visitor’s Bureau sites were made for people like me. Except I don’t want the touristy experience any more.
The quick, high volume adrenaline rush of time spent making memories. I love those things, but I’m not interested in chasing them all the time. I like it when at the end of the day my feet hurt from walking in sandals for 5 miles. New streets I’ve never seen before. Next to city gardens and fresh heirloom tomatoes. Having random sidewalk dance parties and not caring one shit if anyone thinks we look insanely stupid. Window shopping for our house, sidewalk shopping for our dreams.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve been to Chicago, I’ve already made so many memories there and seen all great stuff you hear about. But I’ve never walked the entire lakeshore during an Air and Water show. Or walked next to the field where Cabrini Green used to stand, or heard it’s story from Laura who made me want to look it up and learn more.
I’ve never walked into a local bike store in Chicago and started chatting with the owner who let us take one of their bikes for a test ride. Which we promptly started to try and justify buying.
But didn’t. Yet.
It reworked how I felt about vacations, this entire weekend. Because I wasn’t counting down the days til we go somewhere so I could keep track of the hours we spent away, only to return home to grieve the fact that it’s over.
I used to practice regretting things.
Now I’m practicing doing them.