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  • Writer's pictureelise

Chapter 18 - I couldn't help but laugh...

Ahhh, mmmm. This is probably the only time I have smelled something beautiful at the airport and, wow, ok. So here we are. Two random people, who randomly met and now after a few weeks of FaceTiming…together in a random city. Now what? I couldn’t help but laugh.

I tend to laugh when I’m uncomfortable or uneasy, and this definitely fit the bill. As we sat in the car from the airport to the hotel, I kept looking over at him and giggling under my breath. What in the heck are we doing and why are we in the middle of the country again? I know I’ve asked three times, but why…again?

He was excited and full of energy. I was nervous and relieved, still a bit skeptical, yet hopeful all at the same time. I made a promise to myself and decided that I would set my very type A personality to the side and I would take a backseat during this trip. Meaning, I would let him lead fully and I would enjoy observing him, how he manages this trip and how he works his way through the meticulously planned itinerary. Listening…it’s something I’m working on. This would be a good opportunity to listen, and not talk or suggest or plan…just watch, listen and learn about this man.

We take the hour ride from the airport to the hotel. We talk about how wild and crazy it Is that we are actually doing this. A few minutes go by in the car. I’m looking out the window at Chicago, soaking it in and checking to see that my contacts know where I am. He says, ‘are you ready?’ Um, what? Am I ready for what? ‘Sure, for what?’ He whips out the itinerary and starts rattling off what he has planned - when, where, what time and some info about each place.

First he says, we drop our suitcases in our respective rooms and then we go get deep dish pizza. This cracked me up, because I only suggested deep dish because it was literally the only thing I’d ever heard of Chicago, plus, I like pizza, plus I figured if we aren’t having tropical drinks in a swimsuit, then we might as well be having deep dish pizza!

We get to the hotel and drop our things. I decide to take a few moments to regroup, lay on my bed and try to catch a few power nap zzzz’s as well as wrap my head around the next FOUR days. He, being at least part-superman was ready to roll and within 15 min was unpacked, freshened up, and mapping out our walk from the hotel to the pizza place.

I touch-up my makeup, brush my hair and my teeth and we leave the hotel. The weather is perfect. The sun is shining and the sky is clear. It’s summertime warm but not stifling or humid, perfect, really. He has done so much research that he is now the trip organizer and the tour guide. He takes me the scenic route, right along the river and begins to point out some of the famous buildings and architecture.

The riverfront is full of eye candy. Beautiful buildings, boats and people. He walks fast, with purpose, but I could tell he slowed down a bit for me as I was soaking it all in. I was enamored with the skyline and as I looked up at the magnificent buildings, thinking about what a beautiful city this is and how I never realized the charm of Chicago, I feel a tickle and that’s when I realize his calloused hand is gently grabbing mine. Our walking cadence begins to match and we continue hand and hand to the pizza place for our first official date.

I smile. He smiles. I ask him if he’s excited to eat deep dish pizza he says yes, he’s never had it. I’m not sure I have had authentic deep dish either, so I’m looking forward to it as well. Plus I was hungry since I opted to find a shout wipe for my shirt instead of eating breakfast earlier in the day.

We arrive at the pizza place exactly when our itinerary suggests we will. We are seated across the table from each other. I take a pic of him as if to make sure this is real. We take a look at the menu realizing that we really have no idea what each other likes to eat so we start the typical ‘what do you like,’ convo.

That’s when he nonchalantly mentions, ‘I can’t eat red sauce.’ ‘Um, what?!’ I exclaim. That’s 1/3 of what pizza is. I suggest we leave and that I really didn’t NEED deep dish, I just thought this is what you were supposed to do in Chi-town. He tells me not to worry, he can have a little and it was important to him that I get to try deep dish in Chicago since I asked for it. Pause…(this is where I am practicing my listening)

‘Are you sure,’ I ask. ‘Yes, I am sure,' he says.

I pause. I let that sink in for a second.

Pizza sauce…who knew I’d learn so much about a person and their character from one simple ingredient?

I look across the table and there it is…the most imperfect smile on the most perfect man. It’s kind, it’s gentle, it’s reassuring. It’s magical. Is this real?

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