Essie and I went home to Chicago and it was wonderful.
We left Virginia at 4:15am the Saturday before Christmas and drove straight through. Essie is so good in the car, she sits up and looks out the window or rests her head on my arm but stays awake, thus abiding by the rules of shotgun. But it was the craziest thing – as soon as we crossed over the Skyway Bridge she curled up in the passenger seat and fell fast asleep. It was like she knew we were home and could relax. All of the stop and go traffic driving into the city just made her more comfortable, rocking her to sleep. I love my big city dog.
On the way to my parents’ house, I made a point of stopping with Essie at the north side of Belmont Harbor. When we lived in Chicago, this was our spot. As soon as we turned off of Lake Shore Drive, Essie knew. She sat upright and started whining and howling with excitement. I rolled down the windows and let her smell the cool lake air and she just about lost it. When I let her out of the car she ran faster than I’ve ever seen her run, almost leaping for joy. It was just like old times and it made me so happy, nostalgic and, admittedly, a little emotional. For 8 years, this was our spot, our afternoon outing, our little oasis in the city. It felt great to be back !
I miss being so close to my family, especially my niece and nephew. During my week home, I made a point of taking each of them on a Chicago date. I took 2-year-old Jimmy to the Christmas train exhibit at the Lincoln Park Conservatory and he spent a joyful hour running from train set to train set, waving “hi” and “bye” to each train as it passed.
Chloe and I had an exciting urban grown-up day downtown. First we took the red line downtown and spotted a billboard for the Chicago Electric Boat Company (my brother-in-law’s company) from the platform, complete with a photo I took for the company years ago.
Our first stop was the Art Institute of Chicago. This was Chloe’s first visit to the Art Institute and while I think she was still a little young for it (she’s 4 and a half ) I had fun showing her some of my favorite pieces, including Chagall’s lovely stained glass window. Chloe’s favorites were Degas’ ballerinas and coloring in the education center in the modern wing.
Next we headed across the street for hot chocolate at Cosi where Chloe proudly told our waiter, “We are on a special lady’s day!” and earned us a free brownie. As she was waiting for her hot chocolate to cool she crossed her legs, cocked her head and said, “Nenn, let’s pretend we’re grown up ladies out for tea.” That little girl makes me smile!
After a quick stop at the Palmer House to look at the big Christmas tree, we jumped on a crowded Red Line (Chloe was pretty excited that she got to stand the entire ride) and then took the Addison bus back to my sister’s apartment. A fun and memorable day out with my sweet, clever, hilarious niece.
After her homecoming run at Belmont, Essie was perfectly happy to just be with her cousins for the week. She and Jimmy were all laughs and wags, two little peas in a pod.
All too soon, our week at home came to an end. The day after Christmas we reluctantly started driving back toward Virginia. A lot of driving, but it was worth it to be home for Christmas.