Chicago

The first time Chris mentioned that there was a possibility that Chicago was going to be the first place we called home, I cried. I'm a winner, huh? Despite that initial reaction, Chicago can do almost no wrong now. We flew into Chicago two months from a trip to Dallas, and it was snowing ... in April! That wasn't completely out of the ordinary, but I don't think snow in April ever sounds pleasant. And it really wasn't pleasant. It was a grey, slushy snow. Even with the demoralizing and late in the season snow, I couldn't believe how much I loved being back in Chicago for just a few hours after a day of travel.

All of Chris' friends know that when he plans, he really plans. He really gets into it. Bringing rugby back to ND, organizing a rugby match in Ireland, summer rugby, his brothers' bachelor party that is about to commence, whatever it is, he researches all possibilities to the point when you just okaaaaay anything he suggests. Finding an apartment in Chicago was no different. And boy, did he find us an apartment. After a little bit of a rocky start with a real estate agent that showed us horrendous apartment with bars on the windows so the following less than mediocre apartment would look like a find, Chris searched and searched until he found the apartment that fit what we wanted exactly for a steal. I wanted to live close to this church, feel safe, have a washer and dryer, be able to walk to work if I got a job downtown, and we needed to be close to a highway exit for Chris' job. Chris snagged the first apartment in a brand new building in River West so not only was it our first home, we were its first family. It had hardwood floors, granite counter tops, new appliances, all the good stuff aaaaaaand this view from the rooftop:

I'm fully aware that my view of Chicago is very rosy. I only lived there from the end of May to the end of October - the best months in Chicago - and we only explored a few neighborhoods out of the many. But like I said, it was our first home so no matter what, that city was bound to always have a rosy feel about it for me. Here are some things that I just don't want to forget:

+ spending hours on Memorial Day trying to figure what meals to put in our meal plan for the week feeling very overwhelmed by my first task as a homemaker before just heading to the grocery store and buying way too much food (sadly things have not changed).
+ hearing the car honk twice which signaled that my husband! was! home! I loved running to the door to greet him.
+ I was really stubborn and cheap so I would walk everywhere. 
+ our apartment was a phone dungeon. Phone signal went there to die. You could only get a little bit of signal near the front sliding door, and that was spotty at best.
+ I was job searching when we first moved there, but because of the phone signal denying walls of our humble abode, I had to take all the phone interviews I got outside. Every single time, the interview seemed to coincide with the garbage truck arriving or the commuter train passing by or everyone walking their dog at the same time. I got very good at running away from the approaching noise all while never skipping a beat ... well, I think, ha.
Outside the most delicious Italian restaurant, La Scarola, in our neighborhood. Go! 
+ when I did, in fact, land a job downtown, I would walk two miles there and two miles back. On the way, I would walk down Lake St. until it dead ended at my building. On the way home, I would normally call someone to catch up so I would walk down Randolph St since the train over Lake was just WAY TOO LOUD.
+ I had the best coworkers and the best bosses. Maybe it was because I worked in HR, but being pregnant wasn't a problem when I told them that hey! I actually have a baby growing inside of me! There were four of us girls in our early twenties right next to each other, and we once we called into the boss' office to talk about "perception" aka "stop talking to each other so much." Oops! Chris thinks that story is hilarious; I just think it shows that I really loved my coworkers' company.
Black Dog Gelato opened in Ukranian Village soon before we arrived in Chicago, and there were enough positive Yelp reviews to send us that way after Mass at St. Mary of the Angels. It was a good day if we were in the neighborhood and had cash in our wallets.
+ I've talked about Delux before, but it really was soooo nice when Chris would look at me, the very novice homekeeper of the house, and say, "Hey, I'll go pick up food from Delux."
+ A chocolate factory was a few blocks over and a bread factory was a few blocks in the other direction. The air was literally delicious.
+ The summer we lived in Chicago probably had the highest concentration of our college friends in the city at one time. Every sevens rugby weekend, we would have so many people shoved into every nook and cranny of our apartment, and we loved it! It was so fun.
+ We crammed fourteen Harringtons + us into our two bedroom, one bath apartment for an ND football game. The German exchange student that lived with my in-laws at the time was a really, really good sport.
Krakens are the best house guests. Seriously! 

+ Our friends in Chicago really were the best. The guys even helped host a baby shower for us and participated in games.
+ I'll never forget the first time I felt Ryan kick me. It was a Thursday night, and we were going to head out to South Bend after work the next day for the first football weekend of the year. Chris and I were sitting on our hand-me-down couch in our mismatched living room (not much has changed!) with the paintings hung way too high as Chris' uncle helpfully told me the next day. There it was, a sweet little flutter in my belly that caused a giant flutter in my heart. I was so happy that I started playing YouTube videos of Disney songs. Yes, I did. 
+ I loved being able to walk to Mass and receiving the best confessions.  
+ Chris' two brothers lived with us. I honestly love it when they live with us, although I suppose that is coming to a close since they are both getting hitched in August. They still liked me even after going into their room while they slept and vacuuming during one of my pregnancy rages. 
Chris' smile has only been bigger on three other occasions: the births of our sons and when he read his college acceptance letter. Okay, and maybe when he married me. Maybe. 

+ Chris looked forward to the sports leagues in Chicago pretty much since taking his new job. He played soccer in Lincoln Park and in Humboldt Park and up at Montrose Fields. I would watch him and call whoever I needed to catch up with. He played rugby for Lincoln Park for a bit. But the best was the co-ed flag football league. Our team may have never practiced nor strategy nor left a healthy amount of time between the game and the last intake of alcohol, but we prevailed as League Champions!! 
+ I loved having a home with my husband.

Every time we go back to Chicago,  we grab Portillo's or Potbelly's, and we drive to our first apartment to park outside with two more in tow. It is incredibly sappy, but perfect, and I don't really see that tradition stopping any time soon. 

Do you have a city that can do no wrong for you?