Travel

Thursday in Chicago

No one has ever accused me of being highly organized, to be sure.

On Thursday morning, I knew my to-do list was ambitious. That’s a nice way of putting it. There was no way I was going to get all this shit done. So when Jonathan showed up to pick up a play script from me–one he had asked me to hold at one point, and then it lived in my purse for a week because that’s how these things go–and saw that I was three hours from wheels-up and still hadn’t packed, I was thankful for the help he offered. That man saved my life: addressing shiny gold packages to send out lipstick dreams to lovely ladies, then taking those packages to the post office so I could get to my therapist on time, then taking my house keys so that I didn’t have to make another trip to drop them off with Joe.

At one point, he reminded me that it was January and that I was going to Chicago, so I should bring a winter jacket and probably some long underwear. I reminded him that I am from North Dakota, and I understand the cold. He also gave me a reminder: “Bitch, you haven’t been back to North Dakota in 10 years.” True. But it was a moot point because I had my winter jacket and scarf and mittens and hat set out so I could take them with.

It wasn’t until I was halfway to the airport that I realized that I had forgotten to take my winter jacket and scarf and mittens and hat. Oh good.

At any rate, I made it through the airport and onto the plane and was Chicago-bound. None of my songs had downloaded to my phone on Spotify, so I was stuck with my book, which is thankfully excellent (My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante) and also with the iPads of the people next to me. I began my favorite and time-tested ritual of wishing that I had an iPad or that I’d brought my Kindle or that I’d prepared more for this trip and had downloaded something, anything onto literally any device so that I had something to do.

As an aside, I love flying because it’s the shortest way to get places, right? But I hate being on an airplane. If you know me, you know that I’m extremely antsy and I’m always moving and frankly, I don’t like being stuck in the air with only the seat I’m in and a few options. When I’m on a plane, I always end up having the best ideas that I can’t act on: “I like playing cards. I should invite people over to play cards once a week. I want to do that RIGHT NOW.” Things like that. So I honestly fret over having three hours where I’m stuck and unable to do anything except for read or listen to music because I didn’t download anything to watch because I apparently have travel amnesia EVERY GODDAMN TIME I DO IT. I start thinking about how horrifying the “olden days” must have been where you just…couldn’t do anything except for read or think for three hours.

How tragic.

I mostly ended up reading and taking the antsy edge off with some whiskey and also catching glimpses of my seat-neighbor’s iPad (Stranger Things) and his kid’s iPad (some teenage movie that I didn’t know or understand.)

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Luckily, I survived.

We touched down in Chicago and I got up to stand in line and exit the plane, and I overheard a conversation between two young kids, a girl of maybe 10, and her brother, who may have been around 7:

“Did you know the most dangerous animal in the world is a talking dog? Oh yeah. I read it by the police. If a dog eats too much alcohol…I mean, alphabet soup, all the letters go to its brain and then it becomes talking and dangerous. That’s a real thing. I read it from the police.”

That little girl is going places.

New airports are always a little frustrating for me, trying to figure out where everything is and how to get around. Once I got my luggage, I ended up on a frantic phone call with my Lyft driver, trying to figure out where the hell I was supposed to be, since the airport was basically shutting down for the evening (at 10 PM? Really??) and I didn’t want to be stranded there. Luckily, he gave me decent directions and had a flashing strobe-light-thing in his van, so I found him pretty quickly. Although, after looking at his picture on my phone, I made sure to text my Lipstick Squad to let them know that if I got murdered, they knew that it would be by a Necktie With A Minivan:

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Mister Mr. was delightful, however, and told me a few lies and lots of truths about Chicago as we drove through it. He also chastised me for not bringing a winter jacket.

Yeah, dude. I know.

I got to my hotel, which is swank AF, and made friends with the girls at the front desk, who were kind enough to let me know that it was last call at the hotel bar, so I should probably hop on that rn. I got myself a glass of wine, finished most of it, and headed up to my room, where I was greeted by this:

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For real, if you come to Chicago, stay at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro, ask for my homegirl Amber, and tell her Danielle sent you. This place is excellent and Amber is fucking aces.

I wasn’t finished with my wine, but I decided that the Knob Creek and Seagram’s were more a strong suggestion than potential option. I needed ice, so I grabbed the ice bucket and my glass of wine and went in search of ice, which I imagined was in the hallway because I’m used to things like Super 8. I got about halfway down the hallway, where the elevators were, when I had a moment of panic: what if the ice machine wasn’t in the hallway? What if I’m a total plebeian and I’m used to getting my ice from hallways in shady Motel 6s, and in nice hotels, the ice is somewhere else entirely? Then I heard the elevator coming up with a group of people and I panicked: WHAT IF THEY SAW ME AND THEY WOULD IMMEDIATELY KNOW THAT I’M A POOR PERSON IN A NICE HOTEL THAT DOESN’T HAVE HALLWAY ICE MACHINES? So I did the only thing I could think to do, in my semi-drunk state.

I ran.

I booked it back to my hotel room with my ice bucket and half-full wine glass, mostly laughing but also in a state of panic. Once back to safety, I had a laughing fit that was difficult to move past. I called Joe to check on Javi, and told him the story:

Joe: “But why would you panic?”
Danielle: “Because I don’t know…maybe there was no hallway ice maker. This hotel is NICE, Joe. Maybe the ice gets made by, like, I don’t know, the shower? Or the closet? Or this really nice footstool?”
Joe: “You thought your footstool would be where the ice came from?”

I ended my evening by getting into the nice bathrobe, finishing my wine, and falling asleep on a sea of pillows. Tonight, Chicago made a lovely substitute for home.

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