Whatever place in the world you call home, even if it’s temporary, brought you there for a reason.
For me, Chicago was always a glistening stone hugging the coast of Lake Michigan. It was a city that felt worlds away from my tiny hometown that I always dreamed of calling it home. Two and a half years ago, that dream finally came true. I spent several nights a week at the theater, know the Red Line by heart, and would see the towering Downtown skyline at a street view at least once a week.
Now, more than half a year into a pandemic, I’d been away from the bustle of Downtown. Sequestered in our cozy Rogers Park for most of 2020, I miss everything that makes Chicago the best city in the world to me. But, thanks to the folks at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, I spent a weekend immersed in my heart city.
Tucked right in by Millenium Park, Blu Aqua is a perfect staycation spot. Whether you spend your time ordering takeout and enjoying a room besides your own or you push through throngs of masked people on Michigan Avenue, you’ve got a great home base with Blu. Taking in the city from a wavy porch, though slightly terrifying for someone not too keen on heights, after months of homesickness at home will take your breath away. And, if you need a cocktail after half a year away from restaurants, the espresso martini is everything. I couldn’t recommend it more if I tried.
Even if you’ve taken a million architecture tours, you’ve lived in the city forever, or you don’t think another boat tour would be worthwhile, I implore you to think again. Hopping on a mid-morning tour with Summer of George on a perfect Sunday was the best decision we could’ve made. Our tour guide that morning was the best I’ve ever had, and he was right: I did fall in love with our city all over again. My husband and I were only two of the three Chicagoans on the socially distanced, boat rooftop tour. Out of towners aren’t the only ones who should see our remarkable Second City from the river. We should all take a moment to take in what is built-up around us.
In my life, I’ve taken at least half a dozen of those river tours, and Chicago never gets less beautiful. Or fascinating.
As much as I gripe about tourists during baseball season, (if you’ve ever ridden the Ride Line with off the wall, drunk Cubs fans, you’ll get it) being a tourist in my own home was everything I needed. It was only a few days, outside of the walls I’ve practically memorized this year, but it was enough. It was enough to reinvigorate my spirit, help me remember why I call this crazy metropolis my home, and it was the gift my soul needed.
What can I say about this year that hasn’t already been said? 2020 is a cabin fever dream. Events we had our hearts set on were lost, trips went unplanned, and people we love have gone unhugged.
However, there’s no reason that we can’t enjoy where we are right now. There are plenty of safe ways to get your favorite dishes delivered or finally go camping or even spend an afternoon wandering the streets you used to have memorized. Instead of focusing on what we could have done this year, let’s spend some time taking in the places we call home.
It can be as simple as masking up and taking a walk.
Love where you live.