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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Big city dreaming

This is the year I'm going to see things I've always wanted to. I've got big plans in the next couple of months. No more worrying about leaving the kids with sitters. Grandma is in charge. Hell, they'll be fine. They want us to go and have fun, as long as we bring them a trinket or three.

Danny and I celebrate 13 years of marriage in August. We haven't been away sans children since 2000 and that was for a cousin's wedding with all the family around. Before that, it was 1997. But in July (because August is one of the dreadful months that only becomes dreadful when you have school-age children involved in many activities), we're going to Chicago for three, maybe four days. We made the unpopular decision to forego a family vacation this year in favor of indulging mom and dad. I haven't the least bit of concern over that decision. It was the right thing to do.

Typically, I plan our vacations, down the last detail. But Chicago is Danny's town. He first visited his Uncle Wally and Aunt Kathy McGovern there when he was 12. He and his older brother, Jimmy road the Amtrak train to see their sisters at Barat College. And he's been back many times over the years for work. I've only passed through O'Hare Airport on my way to other places. Danny knows exactly where he wants to stay and what he wants to show me. My only stipulation is that he let me spend a few hours (and a few dollars!) in a cool bookstore. All suggestions are welcome.

And then in September, I'm heading to New York City for the SPJ National Convention . The timing is both good and bad. I'll be flying out the day after my 37th birthday (or maybe the day of, I haven't decided yet), but I'll also be there during September 11. It's a big deal for me to set aside both my fears of flying and terrorists to head to the Big Apple. (If all else fails, I'll resort to sporting a voodoo mask on the plane.) But slowly, I'm learning to let go of my fears in favor of embracing life. And this trip is a big part of that. Besides, I'm hoping the safest place to be that day will be NYC.

My head is spinning at the thought of seeing New York for the first time. I'll be staying in Midtown Manhattan, within easy walking distance to many of the sites. Although I'd like to see the tourist sites (Times Square, Statue of Liberty), I'd also like to see the East Village and stroll through Central Park. And while I'm sure we'll have drinks at the Navy Pier and stroll along State Street, I'd also like to have an authentic Italian meal in Chicago's Little Italy.

For me, visiting another city is all about immersing myself in its neighborhood life. Because what I'd really like to know while I'm there is: What's it like to live here? And that's a thought that will keep me dreaming all summer long.

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