This weekend I totally felt like a local Chicagoan, and this time it wasn’t because all of my meals consisted of hot dogs with no ketchup and deep-dish pizza.
Saturday involved heading to the Near West Side for a volunteer day with archi-treasures. The event was cancelled because of rain, so instead I headed to the Loop to shop. That sentence sounds pretty casual, like I just walked down my neighborhood street to Snobug. But I was nearly sweating bullets about which train or bus to take, and my phone was acting like it only knew how to tell time. I knew that if I took the bus I took to get to the volunteer site I could get to a Blue Line stop, so I decided to go with that and see if I could get myself there. Fortunately I didn’t accidently end up in Oak Park or anything and exited the subway safely in the heart of the Loop. I could hardly believe that I had been able to do this at all, much less without using my phone. I found myself on State, a shopping mecca, but I knew I had to get some food first. I remembered that a place called Max’s Takeout was somewhere in the Loop, so I searched Google Maps for “food” on my phone. While my phone clearly doesn’t pick up on my anxiety towards getting lost, it certainly knows that a full stomach is my biggest priority and located Max’s a mere three blocks away.
That it where I encountered this, a Gyro Burger. Mmmmm…..
That baby supplied me with all of the energy and fat I needed to shop for the next three hours and head off a hangover from the night before. It succeeded in both, but I neglected to think about how bloated it would make me feel while trying on crop tops.
Next I went to get my haircut at Bello, a place that’s almost as north as Evanston but was rumored to only charge $20 for a haircut and still be great. So, although I had to sit on a train for an hour each way, I did get a pretty great haircut and some cool photos of my commute.
I still find it so amazing to just hop on a bus or train and have it take me anywhere in the city. Sure, I put myself in the position of having to give a dollar to desperate accordion players and maybe sit next to someone smelly, but it beats having to find a parking spot or stress out about taxis cutting me off or accidentally dooring a cyclist.
The unique part of Chicago’s trains is that they aren’t completely underground–they come up for air most of the time, careening over streets and bridges, swerving through high-rises and houses, and giving glimpses of each neighborhood it passess through. I found it amazing to be at eye-level with somebody’s office while still in the loop and viewing the details of each building from a place that wasn’t on the ground or in the building itself. It was odd to be viewing something in a way that was so unnatural, yet obviously so commonplace for the city itself.
After becoming a food and transit connoisseur this weekend, I became an official Chicago library card holder, a true mark of my Chicagoan status. With this plastic, poorly designed (?) card, I have the freedom to check out all the books I want (limited to 5 within the first month, however). Getting this card was nothing less than a pain in the ass after needing proof of my residency, but acquiring it means that I can wear it as a symbol to all that I am, in fact, NOT a tourist.
Also, our library is ironically located in the Chicago Visitors’ Center. Even though this card is an obvious sign that I am a true Chicagoan (now), I didn’t really help my cause when I spent a good amount of time looking through Chicago brochures and attraction information.