Home.

I’m back in Chicago for the first time in about ten months, which seems unreal.

I drove in from Columbus, Ohio yesterday morning and as my car hit the Chicago Skyway on I-90 and I saw the “Welcome to Chicago” sign I got a little misty. My first glimpse of the Sears Tower was only a moment later and I had a major exhale of breath. Home. I’m home.

I couldn’t wait to get to Lou Malnati’s for the lunch date I had planned with my friend Margaret, but first things first: driving up State Street for one of the most picturesque Chicago landscapes I know.

Driving north on State Street makes me swoon every single time.

How silly of me to think I would only get a little weepy in my first moments back. The whole day was an emotional homecoming. I actually teared up when I spoke with the valet at Marina City, where I like to park every time I have plans in the River North and Loop area so I can look up and dream about living there.

Marina City: my dream home now and forever.

The deep dish was, as always, a near-religious experience.

I will eat Chicago deep dish from other places but there’s nothing like Lou’s.

I spent a moment of zen inside the Chicago Cultural Center under the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world and thanked my lucky stars I have been able to enjoy it so many times in person.

I should have taken video of the Chicago Cultural Center (which used to be the city library) because the splendor of this space doesn’t get picked up in photos. It’s breathtaking.
Completely stunning.

I walked across the street to get lost in the tourist-driven chaos that is always happening at The Bean in Millennium Park.

We call it The Bean for obvious reasons but in case you wondered, its real name is Cloud Gate, by Sir Anish Kapoor.

I spent nearly twenty minutes on my favorite street corner in the world, Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue. This intersection of roads is right at the Chicago River and the noise and hustle bustle of the people and cars and buses is something to behold.

I don’t think I’ve ever captured the flags waving in the wind so beautifully. I looked at it as a homecoming gift.

I made sure to take note, as always, of the plaques that are embedded in the sidewalks on that corner. They outline the original site of Fort Dearborn, from which Chicago sprang forth.

Many people don’t look down to see these. Make sure you do that next time you’re there.

I walked up the Mag Mile from there so I could pay my respects at the original Water Tower and even though I had been in the city for almost four hours by that point I was still wiping away tears and asking myself if this was real life. Was I really home? I couldn’t believe it.

The original Water Tower, one of the few structures that didn’t burn down in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

I squeezed everything I could out of the limited time I had in the city yesterday and although I have certainly never taken Chicago for granted, my appreciation for it now that I don’t live here anymore is off the charts. There’s no other city in the world like it and I’m so lucky it’s mine.

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