Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chicago Stroll

I keep hearing how it's going to take me a year to get used to this job, how the first year here is beyond hell, how it's like this for everyone...and yet, I just can't quite believe that it's not just me. My job is harder than I ever though it would be. And the travel is, well, a lot. I feel like I can't catch up, and that I should be better at this by now, no matter what anyone says.

Bright side: Chicago is a rocking town. And we always stay at sweet hotels. And go to amazing dinners.

Last night: Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue (across from Chanel). Truly inventive, tres expensive Italian. Incredible, really. Kind of bizarre on the portions, though--appetizers consist of like ONE scallop (one really, really good scallop, but one $23 scallop). Dinners are fairly small (at least smaller than you're used to, but actually, the portions are just about right--one of the reasons I like Rock Creek at home so much).

But then there's dessert.

We ordered 5 desserts for 6 of us. And none were small (none huge, but none small. Every last one except a weird lemon custard were impeccable). And then the chef came over with complimentary pastry cups of every type of gelato they make (there were 12, including canteloupe, grape, chocolate, cappuchino, mint...). And then they dropped off a box of 6 additional truffles, also gratis. So kind of bizarre on the whole end-of-meal generousity.

By the end of today, I felt a fairly massive headache coming in (MUST get a Botox refresher. Must. And I heard that Vida (sp?) downtown is great AND has 1/2 price Botox days. But I digress.). Anyway, fresh air was in order, so I bailed out of tonight's dinner (we didn't decide until late, and Frontera takes reservations now and was completely booked by 8:30 a.m., the one restaurant worth braving a migrane for).

It's a beautiful night, so I headed out of the hotel and down Rush. First, to Barneys (not even a Co-Op, an ACTUAL Barneys!), eyeing a seriously gorgeous blue velvet Jojovich-Hawk babydoll top, then over to a Henry cuir that could actually make me forget about me beloved and permanently attached Kooba, but then remembering that I got the call on Friday that I made it off the Balenciaga waitlist, so out of Barneys empty-handed, conniving all the while re: how to convince my husband that the little bag with the little B must remain in my possession. Did a lap at Jake (eh, Philip Lim 3.1 etc, nothing you can't find in DC), then left onto Michigan just as dusk started to fall.

Ah, Michigan Ave. Beautiful New York-caliber store windows juxtaposed with sharp Chicago accents. Anxious Loyola students milling about, awkwardly checking each other out (not unlike how I feel at work a bit), tourists jostling with women carting their dry cleaning and men carrying groceries. Beautiful couples sitting at outdoor tables observing the same scene from their perches.

And then I crossed the street, nearing my hotel, and a looked down and saw a handwritten sign:

"I'm Just Hungry."

He was sitting on the corner, covering his face with the sign. I felt ashamed to be so self-consumed.

I tucked my money into his dirty paper cup, and he lowered the sign, looked up and directly into my eyes.

They were beautiful. And tired. And sad.

I gave him the nod to say "it's cool and good luck."

He gave me one back that I think said "thanks."


DC Celine said...

This made me smile, Babsie D. Unexpected.

E :) said...

I love Chicago too and good on you for giving the guy some money. I bought a guy a cheeseburger the other day and then wished I'd given him cash because he was so grateful.