Today was my first full day in Chicago. I couldn't wait to dive into everything that the city had to offer. It was a beautiful Friday, clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60s. It turned out that my home team, the Washington Nationals, was playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. What better way to enjoy a nice day in the city than by going to a baseball game? Dave, his girlfriend, Grace, and I picked up a few tickets and head out to the 1:20 game.
We made our way through Boys Town, Dave's neighborhood, on our way to Wrigleyville. The character of this district was quickly revealed during our brief walk. In addition to the suggestive name, the main strip of Boys Town was decorated with sex stores, nightclubs and phallic statues. This place was really gay. I'm not going to lie, it sort of took me back to DC. It was a vibrant area full of color and young people. Our quick jaunt through Boys Town really got me looking forward to a gay afternoon in Chicago. No, not that kind of gay. The other kind of gay. You know what I mean? Ahhhh, whatever.
We arrived at Wrigley Field. This place was incredible. They took a funky, old baseball stadium and stuffed it into a block on the Northside of Chicago. I was in awe. It was simultaneously the most crummy and amazing baseball stadium I had ever been to. Crummy because there wasn't a seat in the house that didn't have its view obstructed by a pillar and it felt like the upper level seats were going to collapse at any moment. Amazing because you could feel the history. The main scoreboard in the outfield had no electronic display. There were human beings behind the board who manually adjusted the display for every play. I loved it. I felt like I was attending a game in the early days of baseball, back when everyone brushed shoulders at the ballpark.
Plus, this place was quirky. Since everything was so tightly packed into this one block, businesses and residences across the street from the outfield had jerry rigged bleachers on top of their buildings to join in on the entertainment. This ballpark might have surpassed Camden Yards as my favorite. I had never experienced anything like it. Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville were a free-for-all.
The game was an opportunity to catch up with my buddy, Dave. He and I met about five years ago when we started our careers in economic consulting. We were good friends and neighbors during his three years in DC. Being that we were neighbors, he was used to me regularly coming over, drinking his beer and passing out on his couch. It's good that we had established that rapport, because that is exactly what I was planning on doing for for the next week or so.
Dave left DC to pursue a degree in law. I left DC to squander my savings on a cross country bike trip. Despite our apparent differences, we were great friends. I definitely admired Dave's persistent focus and dedication. As long as I've known him, he has been locked in on his goal of becoming a corporate lawyer and making strategic moves towards that end. His plan seemed to be paying off as he was currently preparing for an internship at a DC-based law firm. Coming from the Hoosier state, Dave embodied that "do it until you get it right" Midwest work ethic. That, combined with his ability to see the big picture, seemed to be steering him down an interesting career path.
The Nats ultimately lost to the Cubs, 6-8, but Wrigley Field was so cool that I wasn't even upset about the loss.
We made our way back to the apartment through the hoards of young people flocking to the innumerable sports bars around the stadium. Once there, Dave proposed the seemingly good idea of taking a run along the Lake. The weather was perfect and he had some old running shoes I could borrow. Perfect. We geared up and made our way to the shoreline.
The run was confusing. I was having a hard time interpreting the messages my body was sending me. Nearly every inch of my body was in pain during the brief jog. My quads and feet were begging me to stop. This seemed a bit silly to me. I just got done riding a thousand miles to get here. How the heck could my body not bear a pleasant four mile jog along the lake? I ignored my body's signals and completed the run.
Back at home we wrapped up the workout with some push-ups and pull-ups. As I cooled down it became apparent that something was off. Most of my body was sore, which was fine, but my left foot was hurt. I found myself hobbling around the apartment to avoid putting weight on it. Our plan for the night was to attend Dave's law school's year-end social. If I had a touch more self-control and were a bit more responsible I would have taken the night off to let my foot heal, but I only had a week in Chicago, so screw it, I was going out. We suited up to head to the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier.
The night was great. Once I got a drink or two in my system my foot went numb so I was able to dance my tail off. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Probably bad. Anyways, I'll give it to the U Chicago law students, they know how to party. I guess they're getting that whole "work hard, play hard" thing started early. Maybe it was part of their curriculum? This long night of dancing was much needed after so many nights on the road. I was very quickly coming to understand why so many people love Chicago.