Things I love: girl time, weekends away, Chicago, and my college girlfriends. Therefore, last weekend was pretty much perfection when you throw in 75 degree and sunny weather.
My 'PT school' friends and I all live in different states now, but the four of us have been through so much over the years that distance doesn't matter. Do you have friends like that? Girls that even though you haven't seen each other in years, you can pick up right where you left off without an ounce of awkwardness? I'm lucky that I have this group of PT friends and also my STL friends that will always be 'those' girls to me.
Keri was featured on this blog many times back in 2008 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She is 6.5 years out from her diagnosis and is doing awesome, living in Indiana with her husband, and hasn't changed a bit. I haven't seen her since her wedding in 2010.
Allison was one of my roommates in college and a sorority sister, she lives in Maryland with her husband and three kids. Al has as a 10.5 year old daughter plus a nine year old and an eight year old from her husband's previous marriage, so she is just sort of busy;). I haven't seen Al since my baby shower in 2010.
Megan was our host, living in a north/west neighborhood of Chicago. She was also one of my roommates in college, a sorority sister, and she's pregnant with baby #2. Her boy Mitch is one year old so just a few months older than Porter, and she was a fab host to us ladies. I haven't seen Meg since her wedding in 2011.
The four of us aren't constantly emailing or texting and we obviously hadn't seen each other much since we graduated. In fact, the four of us hadn't been reunited all together since my baby shower in St. Louis over five years ago so it was HIGH TIME we finally did a girls weekend. We had this planned for 2013 and then it fell through, which is good because I'm pretty sure that previously scheduled trip was right around the time I got pregnant with Porter. So glad it didn't work out for me to be away then!
This is one of the only pictures I have of us four online anywhere (plenty of actual prints in scrapbooks floating around somewhere, though). This was at my baby shower and that would be our 'cute faces' pose. Definitely an inside joke, we aren't really THAT vain but it was just a college thing. You had to be there...
But this time we vowed to make this happen. Megan offered to host since Chicago is somewhat central for all of us living in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Indiana. I had Tony and Truman drop me off at the Amtrak train station on Friday for the 1:00 train to Chicago. Then the guys picked Cecelia and Porter up from Lori's later that day, and then began Nate's solo weekend with the children. But of course his parents were around for a lot of the time and the kids were on their best behavior for daddy. OF COURSE:)
I took the train to Union Station which is a quick 90 minute ride and a whopping $24 one way. I mean, you really cannot beat this method to the big city because you can bypass traffic! Keri drove to Megan's and Allison flew into Midway, so we decided it was easiest for Allison and I to meet up via the CTA then ride together to a stop near Meg's house. It's always a little 'holy crap, Chicago is freaking huge and so heavily populated and OMG, please don't get lost!' when I go to Chi-town. But I really do love this city so much and Nate and I need to get down there with the kids soon.
Anyway, I took the amtrak to Union Station, walked with my phone in front of my nose as the maps app told me which way to turn, veered into a Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up and a bit of downtime, then found my LaSalle blue line station where Allison was meeting me after she landed. I saw the Willis tower and noted that downtown Chicago is still quite amazing. Took a few pictures, looked like a tooly tourist, you know...the usual.
(Finally reading Gone Girl--like it so far! Also, I wonder why the girls were shocked by the amount of coffee I drink, it's not like I talk about coffee that much...right?)
Once Allison texted to say she was hopping on her Orange Line to meet me, I walked the rest of my way to the blue line station. Allison and I found each other and hopped on the train to the Irving station, where Megan and Keri picked us up via car. I mean, the traffic on the Express Way was incredible. Apparently anything after 3pm on a Friday is just a joke....a small price to pay for a booming city life, but still. Cray.
We got the tour of Megan's adorable house and then chatted our faces off. We had reservations for dinner at 8pm and we sort of had to hustle to get ready because we were so busy catching up from years apart. Megan drove us to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba which was absolutely delicious --- love small plates, love Spanish Tapas, loved the atmosphere. I had a 'Barca Blues' as a drink (vodka, luxardo maraschino, blueberry, basil, mint, lemon, and orange bitters) and it was divine. Also had a peach sangria, then we shared a boat load of small plates--too many to even list. We discussed my lack of a selfie stick but still managed a picture to commemorate our first night together. I hardly took any pictures this trip, was too busy talking!
Saturday morning we woke up and resumed our constant chatter, ate some fruit and toast and had coffee (I had my first cup from a Keurig, so insane!!). Then we got dressed and went to brunch at Frasca in the Roscoe Village area, where we sat outside in the glorious sunshine and consumed tasty food (I had the Lincoln Ave omelette and we shared a slice of heaven with these puffy donut ball things). Then we walked around and shopped (a boutique called Bazar sort of blew my mind), got pedicures, and eventually landed at Mystic Celt for some drinks. Is outdoor dining/day drinking the best thing ever? I think yes. Also discovered 'Summer Brew' which is a Blue Moon/citron Vodka/lemonade cocktail and my new favorite.
Ah, some things never change. Feeling like a GIANT next to these ladies.
Nearly killed ourselves in the middle of a street for this shot with the word 'Chicago' under foot. Worth it?
Oops, also had a Margarita. Was perfect.
We headed home, eventually showered and got ready for dinner, where we had reservations at Pizza East---this place totally rocked my world. We ate inside and the atmosphere was very hip and fun but casual. Basically it was a highlight of the whole trip. The bruschetta with fava beans and radish was phenomenal, the salad with avocado and mustard vinaigrette made me want to hunt for a similar dressing at home, and our pizzas we shared were all great but the veal meatball/proscuitto one was the ultimate fave. Allison and I also split a bottle of Cab/Merlot and it was great but the buttery garlic bread was even better. Really fun evening, not even sure what we talked about at this point but I know I was belly laughing and near crying a lot of the time (from the belly laughs).
Another selfie-pre dinner!
Megan drove us home and I realized that even at nearly 11pm on Saturday night, the expressway is still freaking packed in Chicago. Maybe a lot of the cool kids were just beginning their nights! We all stayed up and Al and I had more wine, watching some Louis CK with Megan's husband, Kurt. I mean, I'm sure the copious amounts of wine made him much funnier than necessary but I was crying-laughing at one of his routines about parenting. He definitely takes things WAY too far but on this night I thought he was hilarious.
We called it a night and went to bed, and in the morning I was fearful of a wine hangover. I did need a little 'rest' session on the couch to rebound but eventually pulled through. Megan made us an awesome egg casserole, coffee, and fruit before we all started packing up. It was sad to say goodbye to these girls and we agreed we cannot let another 5ish years go by without visiting again. Nope. It was too much fun seeing them in person so it must happen again soon.
Megan dropped Allison and I off at Union station, where I got the 10:20 Amtrak back to Milwaukee and Allison took the CTA (The L?? I think this is the correct terminology) to Midway. Keri drove back home to Indiana. And we all resumed our lives spread out in different states but with a little more reminiscing and laughter under our belts. Love these girls so much. Until next time;)
Little known fact: Nate and I were thisclose to moving to Chicago instead of Milwaukee back in 2007. I even had to cancel an interview I had set up at a hospital in Chicago once we officially decided we were headed to Milwaukee. It's such a fun town and there's just so much to DO there. Again, must take the Amtrak down with our kids soon.