A warmer trip to Chicago

I should be going to bed because I have to go to Twinsburg for work tomorrow, but I just really want to write.

Chicago was a great experience. Going there this time, the first time after I began to imagine what it would be like to live there, was important for me. I wanted to see how I felt there with this new idea for myself and my future, and it felt right. I was by myself a few times on this trip, and walking alone and navigating the city was exciting and fresh. This was also the first time in several visits that I was there when it wasn’t November, and I have to say, Chicago is gorgeous in fair weather. Maybe this conclusion means I should go back once more in the dead of winter before I decide for sure I want to live there.

Waiting on the red line

I rode to Chicago Friday with two women from improv, one of whom I’d taken my intro class with and one I’d met only two days earlier. I immediately got off on the wrong foot with one, who I was supposed to tell that the other woman and I would be arriving at her home by 7:45 that morning. I forgot, and she was clearly displeased but graceful about this unexpected arrival. An hour and a half and one breakfast at Panera Bread later, we hit the road as planned.

Outside the iO

Our carful arrived in Chicago around 6 p.m. Central time. The two women had reservations for an 8 p.m. show at the iO, or Improv Olympics. I rode the red line with them to the theater and, since I had a reservation with the rest of our group for the 10:30, I went off to get dinner by myself. I called my uncle, who lived in Chicago for a long time, to ask for a restaurant recommendation. I couldn’t find either of his suggestions, but since one of them had been a Mexican place and that sounded amazing at the time, I found a different one. After I ate I called one of the other travelers and found out they were on their way up. I walked back toward the red line to meet them and ran into them outside of the iO. It was still early, so we went to a bar across Clark St. to wait for the show’s doors to open.

We saw iO’s Improvised Shakespeare Company and it ended up being my favorite show of the trip. Five men dressed in Shakespearean clothes took an audience suggested title (“The Merchant of Penis”) and improvised an hour long show about a male gigolo. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. They are well versed in Shakespeare and take a class on the Bard once a month or something like that, to stay completely on point with their genre.

Bubble tea from Chinatown

The next morning, Saturday, I woke up later than anyone else in the room. The two women I’d rode up with left for Chinatown and offered to wait on me. I told them I’d catch up with them shortly, since Chinatown was only six blocks or so from where we were staying. I got ready and met up with them with my video camera. I carried the camera with me all day Saturday but ultimately only shot about eight minutes of footage; I probably won’t do anything with it, either. For people so used to being on stage, I could tell they were for the most part collectively uncomfortable on camera. As a videographer you’ve got to respect those kind of feelings.

I was kind of the odd one out of the group, since I am no longer taking improv classes and I opted out of the workshop Saturday afternoon. Most people left for the workshop at the Annoyance around 12:30, and I took the bus to the Magnificent Mile. The last time I’d been there was this past Thanksgiving, with Brandon’s family and that awareness made me really miss all of them. But, I tried to get past that and focus on the wonderful feeling of independence I had, all alone in a city I love, trying on dresses in stores with no one to rush me. Not that Brandon or anyone ever did, but not having to worry bout anyone else’s schedule or agenda was a nice feeling.

Showing team spirit

The Stanley Cup, in which the Chicago Blackhawks were competing, was going on while I was there of course, and I saw two interesting displays of support; on the bus ride up Michigan Avenue I saw a very formal looking public building with two stone lions outside– and they were wearing giant Blackhawk helmets. Then, outside of Tiffany’s, a male statue was not only holding up a very classic looking clock, but wearing a hockey jersey.

The Uptown Broadway Building near the Annoyance

Nearly four hours later, I navigated my way (via a useful iPhone app) to the Annoyance theater and waited for someone to call and let me know they were out of the workshop. They called around 5 when I was waiting in a Border’s Books and walked to a Starbucks near the theater to meet them. Together as a group again, we took the bus to a restaurant favored by many of the improvisers who’d taken a trip to Chicago last fall. We ate dinner and then watched two very different shows at the Annoyance.

The first was a three person troupe from Detroit, and they were really good. Almost every scene involved all three of them but they kept it going and fresh and interesting all the same. The second show was called Swear Jar, and it was actually scripted comedy, sort of. It was pretty dark, to be honest, but I knew it would be going into it, as that is the Annoyance’s reputation. It had some great moments, and some very inspired musical numbers, but I still maintain that Shakespeare was my favorite show of the trip.

A cool show poster I liked in the hallway at the Annoyance

On Sunday morning, I declined a second trip to Chinatown and slept in instead. I don’t know why, but I was exhausted almost the whole trip. I also forgot to pack my contact lenses so I had to wear my glasses the whole time, which I hated. I grabbed some coffee and a banana for breakfast and we headed back to Midway airport, where our car was parked. Then, we headed home. I slept at least two hours of the trip home, and then slept for another 11 hours that night.

Tomorrow I’m going to a Young Professionals of Columbus meeting, an organization I’m finally joining at my uncle’s suggestion when I actually voiced my very real concern of losing friends in the days after Brandon and I broke up. Nearly four months later, I know I still have some of those friends (enough of them) and I don’t really need to join YPC to go out and meet new people, but I want to do so. I want to take advantage of the opportunities in this city as much as I can, and I am looking forward to the people in YPC I’ve yet to meet.

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