I seem to bring bad weather to cities I visit. Severe coastal fog when I went to San Diego, thunderstorms in Austin, rain and low visibility (I think) in Charlotte. Now it’s exceptionally wet and cold in Chicago. And from asking the locals here it seems like today was purely freak weather because apparently it hasn’t rained for weeks. It just has to pour when I set foot on windy island. When the captain said that temperatures in Chicago are about 40+deg when we were about to land, I was a little jittery. 40+ in summer? Even with all the gusty winds, surely it’s not that cold? I had summer wear and only summer wear in my backpack, so I started thinking what’s the warmest combination I can possibly make out from my limited resources.
Thankfully it wasn’t half as bad as I anticipated. Though it was really wet today. I can’t quite wrap my head around how can there be that much rainfall to pour at one go. It didn’t even stop for one second through the whole day. And well, I wasn’t the only one annoyed having to walk on splashy streets and lug around a drippy umbrella all day. Guess Chicagoans don’t quite welcome rainy days.
I love this district that feels just like Walnut Street. Clad with boutique stores, fine dining, cafes, retail outlets and everything that you need to complete a stroll-down-the-street-and-window-shop experience. Literally window shop. I found myself staring through every full glass; on the same side of the street, the store names were out of sight to know what they carry. It was fun trying to figure out each store and registering everything eye candy-ish within the time I took to casually walk past the storefront.
Today’s pot of gold was discovering a rustic, second-hand bookstore. I have never seen anything quite like it; three full floors of books of every possible genre you can think of, with shelves marking out narrow walkways. Everything had an age to it – the books, the shelves, the furnishing, the walls, the stairs.. It just felt like stumbling upon a time capsule. I loved how their solid wooden shelves extended from the ground up to the ceiling, engulfing you as you walk through them. The feeling of being surrounded (literally) by books is just so invigorating, so soulful, so much bliss. Every inch of the store is covered with books. There’s so many to see, so much to pry your eyes on that it’s almost visually exhausting. It has every flavor that a bookstore should carry. And so I can’t quite blame myself for buying a book when I finally managed to get myself out of the store. The feeling when you clutch a book, the smell of the pages.. I think I could even live in a place like that.
I concluded that there’s actually three things you should always do when you travel, not two. 1) Take photos, 2) write, and, 3) read. I love my reading obsession, it fits snugly into the traveling scene. In another place, a different timezone, different people on the streets, and different skies. Already so surreal. Add a fiction book and you find yourself taking the streets as the backdrop of your imagination, superimposed onto reality.
Hopefully the weather holds up tomorrow so I can head out to get some clear skies and sunshine, and comb the city with dry shoes.
Oh and today’s fortune cookie says: You need a new environment. Go on vacation. Absolutely spot on. A change in environment really helps to add a bit of tastefulness to your everyday, You’d feel a little more alive and like you’re actually breathing.