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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Heart Grows Fonder

We ate well, we shared well, we laughed well, we travelled well, we loved phenomenally.

It never fails to amaze me, my capacity for loving this man. When my heart feels full, fuller than it ever has before, full to the point of bursting, something happens and I'm able to love him a little more. Maybe this first-time-love-as-it-should-be-love is stretching my ability to love and be loved.

We had such an amazing trip together. I finally saw his home town and where I will be living one day. It felt good. It felt comfortable. It felt like somewhere I can see myself living. And I met some of his family, too. Which pretty much sealed the deal. Especially his grandma. She might be in her late 80's but nothing keeps her down. What an awesome woman. She embraced me not only physically, but emotionally as well. She shared her home, her table and her heart with me. She spoke of the great love of her life, her beloved late husband. And in her words I could see my love and I. We have that kind of love and she sees that too. I'm envious of only one thing she had with her husband which I won't have with my future husband. The gift of time. They shared over 50 years together and we won't have that time, but we will have all the time we are fortunate enough to have.

Now onto the sharing with you: We had a pie in Chicago (de rigueur I believe, but I refused the deep pan, I don't like pizza cake!) Look at all the topping on that, and it's the thin crust.
We had steak and an excellent bottle of cab (I now drink on occasion) our first night there, before diving into Borders for a good hour and coming out with some wonderful finds for him. I just enjoyed the browsing, I'm not a very serious book browser, I merely revel in being surrounded by them. My love on the other hand is a true bookaholic and I love to see the pleasure they bring to him. Another evening, we shared a wonderful Chinese meal (not overly Americanised) of cod, chicken, veggies and seafood rice, with a lovely bottle of Cloudy Bay chardonnay.

And so many firsts:

First time I've been as cold as I was in Chicago. It was -2F (-19C) on the Sunday we were there, dropping to -28F (-33C) with the wind chill - and trust me there was wind! My face and head and especially my ears were so sore after only a couple of minutes in the cold wind and my eyes were tearing. I think the cold was being conducted through the metal posts of my pierced earrings (I have three in each ear) and freezing my ears from the inside!

First time I watched a hockey game. I wasn't really SO looking forward to it but in the end I did enjoy it. I got us good seats, row 5 and right behind the home team's bench but because I couldn't see too well, man that puck becomes invisible at times, we moved up to the peanut gallery where it was a lot easier to see everything on the ice. Before we moved, the guy next to me, obviously hearing all the explanations my love was having to give me as we watched, asked if this was my first time. I started to talk with him and he latched on to my accent, asking where I was from. When I told him Hong Kong he punched me on my shoulder and said "no way". Then told his wife about me but she definitely wasn't that interested in the fact her husband was talking to this woman to his left ;)

First time I sat in a car being driven at 20mph with hazard lights flashing during a whiteout and on ice-encrusted interstates. It was pretty hairy to say the least, we passed at least a dozen cars off the road, some with people still inside and at one point, the car directly in front of us spun round several times and ended up going down the ditch at the side of the road, backend first.

First time I saw so much falling snow, turning the ground completely white and making everything just so pretty. Even the driveway at the hotel looked picture-perfect all covered in snow. Plus I loved finding virgin snow to crunch my boots into, it's the sound it makes, I can't resist!!

First time I've had a Ghirardelli sundae, we had the hot fudge butterscotch and it was so yummy. Pure madness as we were eating it in Chicago on that really, really cold day. Notice the empty cafe! This made up for missing Ghirardelli on the way through San Francisco during our California trip.

First time I've eaten meatloaf. His grandma made it for me on my special request. It was yummy, really good. With mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts. She's such a gem, going to so much trouble to let me experience something new.

We spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, totally stunned by the beauty of everything we saw. After touring the entire upper floor, we rested a while to have a late lunch and a drink and were so consumed by having seen so many incredible works of art, we were almost completely silenced. It really is a moving experience to be in the presence of such masterpieces.

Some of my favourites:

Millennium park was on the way back and we just loved the 'bean'. We were laughing like children at our reflections! By standing back and looking not at the people but at the backdrop, there was a wonderful reflection of the skyline, giving an interesting and unique perspective of the city.

We walked just over a mile back to the hotel from the Art Institute and it started to snow which was so lovely. I think I looked a bit odd, constantly turning my face towards the falling flakes to feel them on my skin. One of my favourite buildings, The Carbide & Carbon Building, in the middle of the picture, is an incredible art deco tower, which is now the Hard Rock Hotel. They have preserved its original exterior and though we didn't go inside, I am hoping they also were respectful there and kept the interior faithful to the period. And P.S. No, that's not my guy in the brown jacket!

One of my favourite Chicago characters was this anatomically-correct metal moose. You can only see part of his 'moose manhood' in this picture but rest assured it was all present and accounted for!


S'mee said...

So many firsts Fi..... and the food Mmmmmmm. Glad you're back on form and had such a wonderful time.
IanS X

sophie n said...


thanks for sharing... : )

Fusion said...

Sounds like you did shy town proud Fiona.
I was thinking about meatloaf the other day, it's not made down here I think. And reading about those temps makes me glad to be here for "winter". I don't miss it...but I do miss watching it snow.
Glad you had a good trip!

freebird said...

Wow, wow and... WOW! Fantastic. I'm so happy for you. Hope those poor ears have thawed out!

D said...

So ear muffs for your for Christmas then ;-) So glad the plan is all coming together

Sunny Delight said...

It reads as though you had a wonderful time...Chicago is a wonderful city...I never seem to see as much of it as I wish.

I am especially happy all went well with the family...very pleased for you. Hugs...and hope you are well on your way to better health.

Matt K. said...

While I certainly don't envy you the bitter cold, I do envy the good time you had, and the happiness you're experiencing! ;)

Charmed said...

We were in Chicago last summer. It was really fun. I am glad you had a good time.

George said...

Sounds awesome Fiona ... You have to recognize that this winter, throughout the northern states and most of canada, has an unusual amount of snow. Give it time and you won't be so mesmerized by it. You'll curse it up and down like most of us.

Gillette said...

Sounds like you had a grand time, Fiona. I love Chicago for exactly the reasons you posted here: the food and the art. I also love the architecture...and it's so clean.

And the men are gorgeous. Coming from San Francisco land, I was afeared they were probably all gay, but they do like their women...I got whistled and stared at more there than anywhere else.

Chicago is full of great adventures and a fun place to visit from time to time. So happy you had fun.

Anonymous said...

I was there last summer, Chicago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sounds like you had a lovely time.

Patsy said...

You did a thorough job taking in Chi-town. It is marvelous. However, the grandma sounds like the best ever!


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