Familiar with O’Hare Airport, but ever so formal with Chicago’s skyline. 
Familiar with a security line that could break one’s love for travel, but formal with Chicago’s exuberant architecture scene. 
Familiar with a sprint between gate changes from domestic to international, however too formal with Chicago’s warm-spirited welcomes, friendly faces, and cherished spaces. 
Despite countless stopovers, I never managed to leave the airports.

Now that I’m here, I kept repeating to myself: “How did I manage to take this long to visit?” 

_________

Touching down after a four-hour red-eye (who knew those existed?), I felt the stinging dryness that was exhaustion and effects of recycled air. I grabbed my overpacked carry-on and made straight for the train. With feet touching Chicago proper around 7:30 am, it was time for what would be a mesmerizing, 72-hour fling. 

It was too short. I desperately craved another few days to experience more of the light. What I mean by light is Chicago’s playful interaction with the sun, or lack of. Corners of downtown seemed to be illuminated by beams that shot through towering skyscrapers. The river perfectly reflected all that could be. And when the sun was in full force, the Bean shined brighter than a wedding ring.
All was beautiful, but nothing like the golden warm kiss of sun down. There seemed to be something peaceful to it — people moved in harmony after a long days’ work, there was a certain buzz to which the city moved. The golden rays gently touched all they could until, just like that, the night swept over the city with promise of new adventures.

The time passed with ease, a sort of natural transition between departure and arrival. Jaunts between Millennium Park and Gold Coast proved that walking was indeed the best way to date the city. It was approachable. Like seeing an old friend after years of separation — the city opened it’s arms to whoever was willing to hold on.
Winding in and out of the buildings, each turn proved to be better than the previous. There was much to see, and much to soak in.

To begin to understand the local’s love for the Windy City, I found myself surveying up and down. It was in the moment of standing under the Tiffany stained glass dome inside the Cultural Center that I pondered what else had I missed above me. It was in the moment of getting lost in the corridors of the Art Institute, that I suddenly equated the words: art and Chicago.  
It was in the moment of soaring aboard a helicopter, that it would be hard to imagine anything more inviting than this city. 

As the brutal 3:45am alarm rang out through my room at the Waldorf, I stepped out onto the balcony for one last look. The city’s sublime stillness in almost complete darkness brought the 72-hour love affair full circle. It was passionate, it won the heart over, and left me with a taste I wouldn’t forget.
With unfinished business left, I’ll see you soon, Chicago. 

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