One of my favorite parts of being home is being (relatively) close to the city. Yes, my train ride takes around an hour and fifteen minutes to Union Station, but having an accessible train station close to my home is convenient. Not having any kind of long-form public transportation in Missouri is one of my biggest pet peeves while at college. I am a firm supporter of the idea that we should have high-speed rail all across this country. So much easier than flying everywhere!
Another reason I love being home: I get to see people like Layla!
Wednesday was absolutely beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold, gentle breeze, very sunny…it was like Chicago wanted us to hang out.
Look at that view! Oh, I love the Chicago River (Layla has mixed feelings). I’ve firmly decided that anywhere I decide to live after Missouri needs to have a large body of water near it…ocean, river, lake, pond. I’ll take anything.
This is a large picture of soup, but Layla took me to Xoco, a Rick Bayless restaurant, which I had heard a lot about but had never actually taken the time to explore. It was packed inside, but the staff was informative and helpful. I had the Carnitas Caldos, with pork and avocado and some beautiful spices I can’t name, and Layla had a similar soup, but hers was scarily bloodred! Kind of terrifying but delicious! The spoon was a little big for my mouth but other than that, oh my gosh, please go here. Please.
Then, donuts (doughnuts?) at Glazed and Confused, which, honestly, if the name doesn’t make you want to go there, I’ll be sad. I enjoy a good pop culture pun, people.
Layla is one of my favorite people because she’s not only like, gracious and kind and intelligent and fun, which I think are basic qualities for friendship, but she also has a much more international outlook on a lot of issues than I do. I love hearing Layla’s perspective on international news or foreign policy or current events because usually she brings up a point I haven’t considered. She’s also one of the only people I know who is consistently aware of her carbon footprint. Layla just makes me want to recycle more and change the world at the same time. I wish I could put into words how contagiously wonderful she is!
She lives much closer to the city than I do, so she’s much more familiar with it. This picture was taken at a French-style market on Randolph and Wells that she frequents. The market was inside, quiet, and uncrowded. We strolled and discussed the differences between Orangina and San Pellegrino (#derp), bought her sister a lobster roll, and explored a homemade granola stall. There’s such a variety of vendors that it would be a mistake to pass this up the next time you’re in the city!
ALSO IMPORTANT LIFE QUESTION: In French, a “macaron” is pronounced “mah-kah-rohn” with the ending “n” being nearly silent. Americans say “macaron” as “macaroon” which is a completely different cookie! “Macaroons” are usually coconut cookies shaped like crescents. “Macarons” are delicate cookies with creamy fillings in a variety of flavors and colors that are all-too-frequently seen on Pinterest/Tumblr/Instagram (#guilty). So if you’re trying to avoid sounding pretentious in public (mixing French with English just makes you look pompous, in my opinion), how do you identify a macaron from a macaroon in English? Obviously we got deep on this trip.
After that, aside from a chat we had inside the Chicago Cultural Center (a relatively unknown place to pop away from the summer crowds on the street) and laying out near the Vietnam War Memorial by the river, we had to part ways so I could catch my train, but my walk home was full of the street art and architecture that make Chicago better than any other city in my book.
Another one of my favorite things about Layla? She loves kale as much as I do. (and Chacos) (and hiking) (and thrifting)
Apples and Greens smoothie from Jamba Juice (with kaaaaale!). (I spy my Chacos. Much hipster. So wow.)
I’ve been in a weird funk all week and Layla made it all seem conquerable. She also made me fall in love with this city a little bit more, by showing me the less-touristy side of it that I don’t always take the time to explore. Don’t ya love friends?