ME: “We were just having a conversation about what if we’re living in the wrong place?”
MEGAN: “You should move to Chicago. I’ve lived all over America and for some reason I keep coming back here.”
Megan had micro-bangs and a tattoo of a red surfer girl on her right triceps. She's a guitar-playing photographer nomad from Northern California, who now works as a server at The Little Goat on Randolph Street where we crossed paths. Randolph appears to be like LA’s 3rd street, where that’s where all of the best restaurants in the city are marking their mark. It’s only a few doors down from Au Cheval where we found America’s Best Burger.
There’s a metaphor: If you put a frog in water and slowly turn up the temperature, he won’t notice until he boils to death, but if you put a frog in boiling water, he’ll jump out immediately. That’s how Detroit feels. The people that live there don’t notice the desolation around them and fiercely defend their town, but people that visit can’t understand that’s why people live there. What if Los Angeles is the same way?
Jonathon and I both grew up in LA, and I always defend it against the haters (as I did on the LAist), but what if the haters are right?
I love Chicago. I love it more than New York. In fact it feels like a cleaner, friendlier New York. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this feeling while traveling though, I’ve had it from Maui to Medellin. In order to see your world from a different perspective, you sometimes have to change that perspective and jump out of the water.
[To read the challenge Megan issued Jonathon and see a picture of her, you can read his experience here.]
In the afternoon we went to the Lincoln Park zoo, but the humidity and trying to fight off last night's Malbec got to me, so we went back to the hotel to take a nap.
The one thing Chicagoans seem to agree on, is the Architecture Tour on the Chicago River. We bought tickets for the 5:00 PM boat and set sail through the river that slices through the center of downtown. We looked at Art Deco, post-modern, Trump’s garbage tower, but most importantly, we saw the city from a different angle lower than street level. Our charismatic, bearded tour guide pointed out the buildings where Ferris Bueller was filmed and the streets that Batman drove on in The Dark Knight. He explained the four red stars on the Chicago flag and hoped that a 5th one would be added when the Cubs finally ended their 107-year World Series drought.
To see Chicago's skyline from Lake Michigan during twilight is a great way to enjoy the city.
“How was the Amazon?”
Kendra looked at me confused and then laughed. The last time I saw her was in 2013, which was also the first time I met her, in La Paz, Bolivia where we got day drunk together at a Mexican restaurant. From there our path's forked off as I went off to the Uyuni Salt Flats and she drifted down the Amazon River.
We agreed to meet on State and Wacker to grab a drink on the River Walk. We ended up at Smith and Wollensky’s for a glass of wine and a martini. She was feeling restless in Chicago and was considering a move to either California or Australia. I recommended that we switch apartments so she could live in Downtown LA and I could live in Bucktown. Trying to decide if you want to live domestically or internationally is a good problem to have.
Off to the right of Kendra, past the Chicago River and two blocks down on State Street, I could see the twinkling lights of the landmark theater sparkling to life the word, “Chicago.”
And that was the last night of my road trip. Tomorrow morning I’ll be on a plane and a few hours after that I’ll see those familiar palm trees at LAX.