Phew! What a weekend! I was back at work today after a very worthwhile but very short trip to Chicago to celebrate my friend, Lauren’s, 30th birthday. And by short, I mean short. Like I was in the city for 36 hours before I had to make my way back to reality last night.
Even though my time in Chicago was short-lived, it was so worth it. I have been so grateful to have had so many opportunities to see some of my best friends so much more often since I moved back to Columbus. I have seen the closest people in my life celebrate love, marriage, and milestone birthdays and that makes my heart so happy.
Over the past few months I have learned a lot about myself and what is truly important to me in my life. Learning to trust the process and enjoy the journey is something that I have been working on instead of only focusing on the end goal and the need to see immediate results. I have said no in the past to things that I should have said yes to. I ignored the support of people who were very close to me and overall, I took so many of the positive things in my life for granted.
The mindset that I have fallen into in the past couple of months has been crucial for my path forward. It may have taken longer than I anticipated but I am finally there and I couldn’t be happier! But what does this all have to do with my celebratory weekend in Chicago? Well for one, I said ‘yes’ to something that the old me would have said no to. I booked my ticket last-minute so the fare was a little higher than normal. I had just over 48 hours off work. I had plenty of excuses to bail but none of that mattered. I knew how happy it would make both Lauren and myself if I was there to celebrate her big day. You only turn 30 once (YOTTO?) right?!
If you’ve been following along, you know that stepping out of my comfort zone is one of my biggest mantras for 2017. It felt so great to say yes to something that would make me happy and I truly felt like I was on top of the world. It might have been this feeling, then, that gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and take the train from the airport to my friend’s place in the city.
Now for those of you that don’t know me, I live in Columbus, Ohio. I drive a Jeep. The use of public transportation isn’t necessary (wait, does Uber count? No? Ok, didn’t think so) so I’m a bit of a rookie when it comes to taking it. Subway? Yeah, unless you’re talking about a foot long, I’m not familiar. Busses? Only the Miami Metro back in my college days (and I will tell you right now that definitely doesn’t count!). So, I would definitely be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about taking the train by myself for the first time.
I’ve been to Chicago so many times over the years, starting with my first trip after my freshman year of college twelve years ago. Wait, TWELVE years ago? Ohhh gosh let’s move on quickly…! Anyways, every time I go to Chicago is a new experience. New neighborhoods to explore, sights to see and donuts to eat and this trip was no different.
Like I said, my Chicago adventure started with the train. Lauren was nice enough to give me very detailed instructions on how to get from the plane to the train and then to the automobile, er I mean her condo, so I was set up for success right off the bat. I found the train station, purchased my ticket, got on the train, and rode it to her stop. Oh. Were you expecting a crazy train story? Yeah, it was actually very uneventful. Ha! The point is, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something by myself that I haven’t done before, which as we all know is half the battle. Watch out 2017, Fay can now take the train.
First activity on our list for the ultimate birthday celebration was a fitness class at Shred415 located in Wicker Park. Now, I am very into health and fitness but since discovering my love for yoga I will admit that have definitely neglected my cardio. So, when I found out I was going to have to RUN I kind of panicked. Maybe I should bail? Negative thoughts started going through my head. I can’t do this. I am going to look stupid. My face will turn bright red. You name it, I thought it.
But I started to think about how far I’ve come in my life. I took the train here for Pete’s sake! I think I can handle a fitness class and boy am I so glad that I did! The instructor did a great job of pumping me up and I kicked that classes ass (and it kicked mine quite literally). Walking out of Shred, I had the biggest smile on my face and I felt so accomplished! I felt so strong. So confident….
And so ready to eat tacos! Oh yes, I earned those tacos for sure! Next up on the agenda was Big Star. If you’ve never been to this taco joint in Chicago, I highly recommend it. Although we forewent the margaritas this time (shocking, I know) we did indulge in some chips and salsa and obviously several tasty tacos- Al pastor, fish and pork belly, YUM.
One of the things that I love about Chicago is that you have everything you could possibly want within walking distance, no matter which neighborhood you live in. So a post taco walk felt pretty great as we headed back to Lauren’s to get ready for the rest of the birthday fun.
Next up, after a throwback girl’s-get-ready-to-go-out party, was dinner at Folklore. This dimly lit and super cozy spot was perfect for a birthday dinner. We ordered empanadas and cheese right we even made it to our table, so obviously our night started off on the right foot. (Side note: Another thing I love about Chicago- BYOB. Genius and much easier on the wallet!) Next up was the main course for which I shared a giant steak and grilled vegetables with my friend, Caitlin.
After dinner we walked across the street to a local bar where we danced the rest of the night away to 80’s and 90’s throwback tunes. We were full of steak, wine and lots of love and the nostalgia was in full swing for sure!
Fast forward to the next day and my last few hours in the city. Ramen was in the plans as soon as Lauren and her boyfriend found out that I was a ramen virgin. Needless to say, I felt a little, um, under the weather, so soup and noodles sounded great! Stepping into Furious Spoon Ramen was like walking into a 90’s throwback hip hop concert. Biggie smalls was blaring out of the speaker and the cooks were jammin’ out.
I took the recommendation of the Chicago locals (Adam) and ordered the Furious Bowl with the fury sauce on the side (also per Adam’s recommendation – good thing too because that sauce is HOT, and I love hot!) Homemade noodles, plump, juicy mushrooms and tender meat swimming around in a flavor bath of deliciously seasoned broth, all topped with a perfectly poached egg? Yeah, I was hooked.
As we walked out of Furious, I found myself immediately being lured across the street by the enchanting smell of fried dough. Next thing I knew I was standing wide-eyed in line ordering 4 donuts (to take home to the parents…calm down) at Stan’s Donut Shop. Now, I am definitely not a donut virgin, nor a Stan’s virgin so I knew I had to grab a few before leaving the city- lemon curd, boston cream, nutella, and a glazed twist to be exact. The twist was enjoyed in the 2 minute car ride back to Lauren’s to get my suitcase before heading back to the airport. Sorry, not sorry, I’m on vacation!
And that’s that! My trip to Chicago quite literally ended on a sweet note. It was a fantastic weekend with amazing people and I am so happy that I was able to join Lauren for her big day. It will be a year full of 30th birthday’s, including mine in March, so I know that I will be able to see my friends again soon! My plan is to travel as much as possible this year…time to spin the globe and see where I will end up next!
Have you all been to Chicago before? Do you have any recommendations for me to check out on my next trip?
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