We’ve surprisingly had quite a bit of visitors since moving to Chicago! It’s always fun to show newbies around the city for the first time and to see the city through virgin eyes again. I love to see and hear what peoples experiences are the first time they visit Chicago, as this crazy wonderful city has become my new normal. It’s interesting to see the city through other’s eyes and to see them fall in love with certain aspects of the city which we initially won our hearts over as well.
Our most recent guest was one of my bridesmaids, Karlie. Karlie and I have known each other since we were wee kids and played baseball together for many of years. I was always the youngest on the team, so nobody really paid attention to me except for my sister. Jasper, Alberta in the Rockie Mountains always hosted these amazing and incredibly difficult sports camps that Karlie and I somehow ended up going to together in our teenage years. During these summer camps, we bonded immensely and had the opportunity to REALLY get to know each other. Karlie and I became really amazing friends in our late teens and have since become known as Honky and Tonky. Why? Neither of us really know, nor do we remember for sure which one is Honky and the other is Tonky… but we think she is Tonky and I am Honky.
I haven’t seen Karlie since our wedding which was almost three years ago. We don’t even really talk that often, but we have the kind of friendship that no matter how much time has passed, we always pick right back up where we left off and it feels like no time has passed at all. When I met Karlie on the rainy streets of Chicago, we hugged immediately, jibber jabbed and she made herself right at home. As soon as she entered our condo, she lightly gasped and whispered “It’s just like in the movies…!” Little did I know that this phrase would be repeated throughout her stay in Chicago, which I LOVED!
Later that night, we went to watch the fireworks along Lake Michigan and we stopped every few feet so that she could take a gazillion photos while repeating her signature phrase. I loved seeing her eyes light up at the things that we now walk by every single day without even noticing them, like the horse statues near Buckingham Fountain. After the fireworks, we walked along the lake with the skyline shining down on us as we made our way back to the core of downtown. She continued to take a gazillion photos and to be amused by small things like being called rude names by homeless people on the street, as well as the no gun signs that are everywhere.
Over the next few days, we put many miles on our soles and souls. Karlie has always been a very creative and artsy person so I loved to hear what the city looked like to her through her own eyes and words. She has a much better appreciation for what goes into the beautiful architecture and art throughout the city than John and I, we just know that it looks nice.
We introduced Karlie to the classic Chicago food and I have never seen anybody so thoroughly enjoy a hot dog before. John and I have gotten used to the price of living in Chicago, and it is now considered our new normal, but Karlie quickly reminded how us much cheaper everything was here compared to Canada. Even after converting the currency, she still came out much ahead shopping.
The busy streets don’t phase me anymore, but Karlie kept pointing out how many cars and people there were. Never in a million years did I ever think of walking the streets of Chicago with my small town friend, where four cars stopped at a four way stop sign used to be considered rush hour.
Spending a few days with Karlie made me fall in love with Chicago all over again. I loved experiencing it again through somebody else’s eyes who didn’t take the greatness of the city for granted. Who still noticed the enormous Owls over the library. Who stopped to notice the detail above the doors of Target. Who was still so very excited for the pizza, the popcorn, the hot dogs. Who marveled at the Chicago Theatre sign while muttering “it’s just like the movies!”
I also fell in love with Karlie all over again while she was here. Karlie is a person who has the most tender heart once you get through her tough exterior. She is thoughtful beyond belief, loving, kind, generous and loyal. She is honest, hardworking and can make me laugh like no other. Karlie and I have always just gotten each other and we both have a tremendous amount of love and respect for each other. Because of this, we both appreciate the sometimes harsh truth that either of us are afraid to tell the other… whether it be fashion choices (like those hideous pink plastic sandals) to serious, real life matters.
After Karlie left our home on her last night in Chicago, John told me that we seem more like sisters than friends. I don’t know if he said this because Tonky and I laugh at the same things, talk in the same manner, have the same roaring appetite and love for food and booze, because we gave him a double hard time over the same things, or if he could just sense that we have a special bond.
Our first dinner without Karlie, John and I both mentioned how it felt quiet and weird without her there. We missed her. We missed her outrageous laugh, the crazy things that came out of her mouth, the forceful bear hugs, the baby talk to Ernie, etc. But at least we know, that even if it is another three years, we will pick right back up where we left off next time we are together… because not even time can get in the way of Honky n’ Tonky!