I arrived at the Silversmith around four in the morning and instantly collapsed into the mattress. With barely any sleep the night before, and a day full of walking and drinking, I was not prepared to get up before noon. Unfortunately, check-out time was at noon and there was a lot I wanted to do before my 7 PM flight departed from O’Hare. Struggling against everything my body was telling me, I pulled myself out of bed around 9:30 and went straight for the room service menu. The first time Scott and I went to Las Vegas, we started a tradition of ordering the most extravagant breakfast at any and every hotel. From New York to Austin to Charleston, we lounged in luxurious robes and made our way through bagels, muffins, eggs, fruit, toast, bacon, sausage, coffee, and, of course, mimosas. I think those uncomplicated mornings, reading the Times in bed, indulging our epicurean sensibilities, were the best times we spent together. Despite the flash of maudlin sentimentality, I was ravenous and hungover enough to need to continue drinking immediately. I placed my order for the feast, took a shower, and relaxed into my robe letting the white terry engulf me.

It was another brilliant Chicago summer day and after polishing off most of my lavish spread, and all of the champagne, I checked out, checked my bag at the front desk, and headed out to the Art Institute. Still in the midst of the month-long trance I fall into whenever I find a new album to love, I threw on a little Vampire Weekend to brighten my steps. Walking past Millenium Park, I can’t help but to stop at Anish Kapoor’s steel jelly bean one last time. Children laid on the ground, giggling at their distorted reflections, and adults looked up in wonder at what could have been a portal to another dimension. Or maybe I was the only one pretending that, but whatever. You gotta have some imagination. Knowing the minutes I had left in Chicago were limited, I made my way through the Art Institute’s garden and up the stairs to the imposing façade.

Interdimensional portal? Or giant jelly bean?

Interdimensional portal? Or giant jelly bean?

Music in the Garden

Music in the Garden


Tickets into the museum were $18 and while it was a bit steep, I have always had a weakness for losing my thoughts in the quick, purposeful strokes of the great impressionists. I do so love contemporary art as well (some of it, anyway) but I have always been so moved by the enduring classic. I wandered through the halls, cogitating about the development, the evolution of technique and style. There is a certain peace in a museum, being surrounded my so much beauty and so much time. I guess I just like beautiful things.

Ahh...Monet

Ahh...Monet

Temporary installation in the contemporary wing - I snuck a photo

Temporary installation in the contemporary wing - I snuck a photo

Boring Orgy?

Boring Orgy?

Van Gogh Drunkards!

Van Gogh Drunkards!


After a few hours of wandering the great halls, around three o’clock or so, I realized how little time I had before I needed to get to the airport and was still intent on taking an architecture cruise down the Chicago River. My random companion from the night before had been texting me periodic complaints regarding the severity of his hangover, and jumped at the chance to ditch the office and take the river cruise with me. That was the plan, but there was one thing I first had to take care of. I made my way from the museum up Michigan Avenue, just like I had the night before, but the city was a different beast during the day. The streets were swallowed in suits and tourists, speckled with stand-outs. Art I hadn’t noticed the night before popped from the sidewalk, and in proper tourist fashion, I stopped to take pictures of any and everything that caught my eye.

didgeridoo!

didgeridoo!

Sunset on the River

Sunset on the River


The champagne had started to wear off and despite the fact that I was carrying a bottle of wine in my purse (I couldn’t very well just throw it away, could I?) I opted to get some water and finished the bottle before I even made it to Scott’s hotel. I arrived, exhausted and half-asleep, and sat down dirty in the swanky lobby to the displeasure of the hotel staff. OK, they weren’t immediately displeased, but when Scott still hadn’t arrived for twenty minutes and I my head slowly started to nod off, periodically snapping back up, I think it’s fair to say they were getting a bit peeved. He finally showed up only to let me know he had but a moment to talk. Though I wanted to apologize for whatever it was that happened last night, the overwhelming urge to nap overpowered any sense of courtesy or regret. He begrudgingly agreed to let me sleep in his room while he was at his conference and moments later I was in his hotel bed, alone.

After an hour or so of napping and crying my phone began to vibrate. Mike was ready to meet me for the cruise. I was not. I didn’t have the balls to tell him why I couldn’t go, so I ignored the message, and slept as long as I could in hopes that I might awaken somewhere else. Needless to say, I did not, and the realizations, both that I would likely never see Scott again and that I probably wouldn’t make my flight, struck me simultaneously. I got my shit together and sat down to write my final goodbyes. I know, melodrama is my forte. As I wrote the words, sobs heaved from my chest, unable to reconcile what I wanted with the reality that was facing me. Tears hit the tiny hotel notepad like some bullshit Lifetime movie cliché and I signed the letter and left.

As I exited the hotel, rain began to drown the city and people scrambled to catch cabs or find shelter. I was already behind on time and I grabbed a taxi to zip me back to the hotel and on to the airport. When we arrived at the Silversmith so I could pick up my suitcase, the cabbie informed me that a ride to the airport in the rain at 5 P.M. on a weekday could easily take longer than the subway. I conceded against my strong desire to spend the next hour in the quiet comfort of the backseat of his taxi and headed out in to the rain to catch the blue line. Still hungover and starved for a lack of food since my decadent breakfast, I made my way through the turnstile and on to the train. I had $3 left in my pocket after buying a lunchable and collapsed in the corner seat as the train pulled itself down the track towards O’Hare.

We arrived some forty-five minutes later, and confused I looked around trying to figure out the right way to go. After conspicuously taking off in the opposite direction of the rest of the passengers, I stopped mid-stride, made an about-face and sunk into the flow of the masses. My flight was departing in fifty minutes and I walked as fast as I could, my bag awkwardly bumping against me until I finally reached the Northwest counter. Dutifully swiping my credit card for identification, I was informed that my flight had already departed. Utterly confused, I checked my blackberry which confirmed my 7:05 P.M. departure. Unfortunately, what I did not realize, and what the attendant at the counter would shortly point out, is that my assistant had entered the flight into my calendar in Eastern Time, for some inexplicable reason. She then proceeded to inform me that the next flight back to Charlotte would not be departing until tomorrow morning at seven, but that she was kindly going to wave the $150 change fee. So, stranded in Chicago with no hotel and no money, I called the only person I knew in Chicago: Scott.

I will spare you the arduous details, but after more than an hour of travel back downtown I made it back to the Park Hyatt, freshened up in the lobby bathroom and headed back up to the bar to wait for Scott to get out of his conference. Somewhere close to three hours had passed, and five or six Hendrick’s and tonics deep, I had struck a rapport with about half of the bartending staff. There was the perky and garrulous Ashley, the pedantic Pollock, Robert, as well as several other patrons who were convinced I had been stood up, and were treating me to pity cocktails. By the time Scott arrived, I was hammered, he was in a shitty mood, and in typical fashion, we quickly turned to pejorative snapping. We brought our bitter comments up to the room and attempted to sleep, but seeing the man I loved, who once held me each night and each morning, awkwardly perched on the inadequate windowsill cushion, I knew I couldn’t stay there. In a predictable fit of tears, I left the hotel, and Scott, for good.

Back at the airport and sobering up, I decided to make use of the bottle of wine I had been lugging around all day. O’Hare was basically deserted, save for a friendly redneck with a gut that stretched from his hips to his chest in a landscape of long-forgotten beers, and a young Spanish-speaking couple trying to find rest in a row of five steel chairs. The redneck, Dave, and I headed outside to smoke a cigarette and bitched about airports and traveling and whatever other thing two random people with nothing in common but nicotine might chat about in an empty airport at one in the morning. At the moment I was about to give in and attempt sleep in the fluorescent terminal, I got a text from random Mike: “at a bar 20 minutes down the blue line. free beer. come out.” Sold. I dragged my ass back on the train and headed out with the firm intentions of drinking till four and making it back in plenty of time to catch my flight at seven. Of course, in the shitstorm that is my life, nothing ever goes to plan. Twenty-five years of this and I have learned to take it in stride. Mike and his roommate and I went out, took shots, played shuffleboard and danced until I don’t remember when. What I do remember is groggily lifting my head and opening my eyes from a couch in a random apartment of a random dude I met in a random city not twenty-four hours ago. And I had already missed my flight. Good decision making, Taylor. In a mess of muttering expletives I got my bags together, found my shoes, and headed back for my last ride on the blue line. It was almost ten when I got to the airport and the next eight hours were nothing but a blur of late flights, running for connections, and sleeping in any and everything that had a seat. At six that evening, I opened the door to my apartment and collapsed on the couch, only to be up and at the bar by eleven that night. Such is the story of my life.

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