Chicago 2

Recollections of Travel

The last several blocks to the Knickerbocker were silent . . . and damp. My husband looked sad, but he did not say a word after I confessed being responsible for his assault. I think I would have felt better had he berated me, but that was not his style. After checking into the hotel we decided to nap before going out to dinner. It had been a long day and we both were weary. When we awakened hours had passed and the city lights reflected throughout the room. I think it was the effect of those bright, cheerful lights that restored our mood. We went for a walk holding hands and putting our bad start out of mind, ready for adventure. After walking several blocks we had not found a place where we wanted to eat dinner and so decided to order room service and a bottle of wine. The evening was turning romantic.

The next morning I noticed the half-full bottle of Cabernet on the table as I headed toward the shower. When I was ready for work, Raymond was dressing for his day of sightseeing. We planned meeting back at the hotel lobby later in the day so we could move on to a different location for the next workdays. 

When I returned in the afternoon he was sitting there right on time and had even had the car brought around from the garage. As we drove through the city the event of the day before seemed a fading memory. After checking in to the new hotel we ate dinner and did more sightseeing before heading in for the night. Our luggage was properly stored side by side on the luggage racks, but something did not seem right. I had a feeling of foreboding I could not explain. As I began to unzip my suitcase, I knew something was terribly wrong. The bouquet I detected was definitely Cabernet and then I saw IT. The dark red wine had seeped from the corked bottle in MY suitcase! fullsizeoutput_b00

His Really Bad Idea

Turning to Raymond I tried to remain calm while asking him why he felt compelled to bring along the wine and why it was in my suitcase. Before I screamed, which I very much wanted to do, luckily I remembered his reaction to being hit in the face with the can of soda yesterday and I refrained from both screaming and assigning blame. Slowly he realized what a catastrophe this was. I had no clothes to wear for the next two days of meetings. The smell of the pungent wine had permeated even the items which were not damp. There was no way my clothes could be cleaned by tomorrow morning or even that they would not be stained after dry cleaning. The suit I had worn today would have to do for the next two days! There was no time for shopping either, just time to rinse out underwear for the next day. It was the first time I wished Raymond wore pajamas because I had to settle for one of his tee shirts for sleeping. 

The rest of the trip is thankfully a blur. I’m pretty sure Raymond spent his days watching TV in the hotel room. I recall being embarrassed about my repeat outfit and wondering if it had even picked up the smell of wine from our room. We didn’t drink often which would make it even more ironic if word got back to the office that for two days I had smelled of wine! At the end of the day on Thursday, we decided we were ready to go home rather than spend more time in the city as we had planned. When our luggage was stowed in the trunk the smell of wine wafted out and the bellman looked surprised but said nothing. I drove through the night carefully obeying the speed limits and hoping there would be no reason to be pulled over by a police officer. I was sure I could smell the wine in the front of the car, too. It was a very long, slow trip home.

That was the only time Raymond ever accompanied me on a business trip. He never asked. I never asked. In fact, we never discussed IT again.



Photos by Pixabay

Chicago 1

Recollections of Travel 

The first time I traveled to Chicago I remember spotting the city abruptly rising up from the surface of the earth like a majestic metropolis among white clouds stationary in the sky. As I looked down, I was in awe of the biggest city I seen to date. After landing I could not wait to look around before I had to go to work the next day on Michigan Ave. 

I was born in the country and became a woman in a tiny town. I had traveled, but Chicago seemed more sophisticated than any city I had experienced thus far. I was so glad that I had brought my camera, something I had never done on a business trip. With my new Canon AE 1 in hand, I stopped worrying about looking like a tourist and started taking pictures of the tall buildings, beautiful parks and the Chicago River running through the city. Before long I felt so comfortable I imagined being a reporter for the Tribune or Sun-Times and by the time I returned to my hotel not only my feet hurt, but also my neck from looking up at the buildings reaching for the sky. What a great day, but alas I needed to prepare for work the next few days. 

Due to my company’s large presence in the area, over the next couple of years, I traveled to Chicago and its suburbs many times and it quickly became my favorite city. I still feel this way even after spending time in New York City and several European cities. Not even the fact that I had zero photographs from that momentous first trip dimmed my enthusiasm. You see, this was during the time when cameras were loaded with film and I had failed to properly engage said film in my fancy new camera so the roll that should have contained 36 newspaper worthy photos was completely blank! I learned to properly load the film and thereafter saved my fancy camera for vacations. 

My Really Bad Idea

My husband had not been to Chicago and I wanted him to experience the city, so we planned for him to accompany me on one of my trips. Having always flown into O’Hare or Midway, I was a little apprehensive about driving my pretty red sports car in the city, but I didn’t really give it a lot of thought until IT happened. 

After five hours or so on the road, discussing our plans and enjoying the trip we were in the heart of the city heading to my favorite hotel, The Knickerbocker. It was a beautiful summer day and I felt lucky we could drive leisurely with the windows down. I was enjoying Raymond’s reaction to the city I had grown to love when someone loudly blew their horn behind us. 

At the next stoplight an apparently full can of Sprite came hurtling through the open window and hit my sweet, innocent husband on the side of his face and the liquid spilled over him and sprayed the car. He looked at me incredulously and I was immediately overcome with guilt and fear. Fear is understandable as the car chased us for a couple of blocks with the driver yelling obscenities, right? But, why did I feel responsible for this terrible assault? IT happened because when the horn blew behind us I had immediately given a reflexive response. I had flipped the driver the bird. 

I now had a serious choice to make. I could allow Raymond to think the people of Chicago were jerks (and this one clearly was) and that he could anticipate being accosted on every corner. Or, I could confess and let him know his wife had precipitated the attack. I chose the latter. 

The trip was only beginning.



Photos by Pixabay