Thoughts from the Windy City

 

I'm writing from high above the streets of Chicago, camped out in our hotel room while my husband does his wheeling and dealing around the city. We checked in on Tuesday evening, and I haven't left the hotel once. While it was tempting to make plans to see the sights and perhaps visit a friend or two, I had to keep this visit on the down-low, and use these two days of uninterrupted time to wrap up the editing of my manuscript. I received the galleys just over a week ago, and they are due in less than a week. Tomorrow we head north to Detroit to visit family, so once we lift off out of O'Hare, my time to edit is over. We get back home Monday evening, and I'll wrap up a few more loose ends on the book before sending it back to my editor Tuesday. All of which means my word for the week has been focus.

I've decided I love hotels ~ no dishes, no laundry, and everything I need under one shiny roof. There's a great view at breakfast, the coffee is good, and I can get a cup to go before heading back to our room for the hours I've had to spend hunched over my book. I took advantage of the gym yesterday, running on the treadmill as everyone hustled along the Chicago River below me. It has been a gray, stormy week, so the weather has made the idea of staying in our room to work all day especially appealing.

I haven't been to Chicago - at least to the city itself - in more than two decades, something I find astonishing for some reason. My last string of visits here was during college, and memories from that period of my life have been flooding in ever since we arrived. This initially took me by surprise, but it actually makes sense. It is as if I secured a string somewhere in Chicago the last time I left  - in 1990 - and have returned with the other end of it. And this string now encircles all the experiences, journeys, and memories I've created during my time away. Because it has been so many years since I've been here, that string holds a lot, and has inspired me to think about who I was when I last strolled along Wacker Drive and who I am today.

The first time I came here, which wasn't long before the last time I visited, was the first time I tried sushi. It was also the first time I'd heard of a crazy place called California Pizza Kitchen. It was a time when my luggage got lost, havoc ensued, and I was upgraded to first class on the flight home. It was one of my first visits to a real city - at least one outside of Washington, D.C. where I grew up - and I threw my bags in our hotel room and practically ran out the door to soak it all in. Looking out the window from our hotel and seeing Sears Tower in the distance, I realize I'd forgotten how alive visiting this city made me feel - how I felt like I was taking some of my first steps into adulthood, and into a life of adventure and energy and movement.

It would have been nice to have a more intimate visit with the city this week, but other priorities had to take center stage. I needed to clear off my editing to do list in order to keep all our time in Detroit wide open, and I'm just not wired to ask for a deadline extension. But I've been content with the few minutes I've stolen here and there to simply stare out the window, and think happy thoughts about a city that brought something alive in me when I was barely 21 years old - a flame that has only expanded, a passion that will never die out.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide