“Is… someone here? Hello?” I called out as I opened the door to our AirBnB.

The studio was warm and steamy, as though someone had just taken a shower; on the bed, rumpled sheets and blankets were heaped into a pile. No one answered. I gingerly walked into the space, peeking into the bathroom. Aside from a hamper full of dirty towels, there were no indications of life. It looked as though someone had just left the apartment, mere minutes ago. “This is weird.”

KT and I glanced at each other, laughing nervously. After quickly texting our host, we passed out (as loathe as I am to admit this) on a corner of the unmade bed, laying my scarf down on the pillows to feel slightly more hygienic. What can I say? We’d stayed up all night to catch a 4am flight, and were in desperate need of a nap ten hours later.

Despite a rocky start to the trip, our time in Chicago was pretty lovely. We were there for KT’s college friend’s wedding, so we spent each night at open bars. (Can I also just say that, should I get married, my top priority will be free-flowing alcohol? How else am I supposed to make family togetherness and lifelong commitment bearable, am.I.right?)

We enjoyed the bracing cold of a Midwestern autumn, walking around as much as we could. We caught up with old friends, ate all the Chicago classics, took the requisite tours and photos, and napped when we could. One afternoon was spent exploring Lincoln Park and Green City Market, and I have to say that it was comforting knowing that some things never change. Despite drastically different settings, I’m still as drawn as ever to communities and farmer’s markets.

At Green City Market, we also stumbled upon the Hoosier Mama Pie booth. A few years (years?!) ago, I’d baked their Dutch apple pie for Friendsgiving. Somehow, hunched over in O’Hare airport, digging into their pear pie with plastic sporks… things felt like they’d come full circle.

Other places we ate:

  • Meli Cafe. A pretty excellent brunch.
  • Giordano’s. To be honest, though, I was a bit disappointed when our pie didn’t come out super hot/fresh. Maybe that’s because of its insane queueing and early-ordering system. Either way, I’m glad I got my deep dish fix.
  • Portillo’s. Italian. Hot. Beef. Emphasis on “beef.”
  • Beatrix. A hip, lounge-y space where one can grab coffee, drinks, a full meal…

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