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Why I’ve Never Been to Chicago

If you knew me really well, you might be surprised that I work in a profession that requires as much traveling as mine does.  When I was younger, I had a pretty marked aversion to travel.  I would sometimes decide I wanted to go somewhere (like to to Vermont for summer camp) but right before I was set to go, I’d back out.  (The Vermont camping story could be an entry all it’s own – even though I never actually went…)

My last two trips to Pittsburgh had layovers at the Chicago Midway International Airport on the return legs.  I’ve flown in and out of Midway many times, but, as I mentioned to the passenger next to me on my return flight Thursday night, I’ve never actually been to Chicago.  I almost did once, though…

When I was growing up, one summer my mom planned a girls’ trip for us.  I think it was the summer between fifth and sixth grades, but it might have been the summer between sixth and seventh.  She was going to take me to Chicago.

I did not have any particular desire to go to Chicago.  It sounded like a very Big Place.  Then I overheard her talking about talking to someone she knew who had been to Chicago, who was giving her advice on whether the hotel we had chosen was in a safe area, etc.  This put me on high alert.  I deduced that if we needed to be concerned about finding a “safe” place, then there must be a lot of “unsafe” places in Chicago.  At this point in my life, I had not yet been exposed to many situations where I was aware of needing to be aware of the safety of my surroundings.  Now, of course, as an adult, I get it.  But then – the very fact that we had to consider safety told me this was not a place I thought we needed to go.

So I objected.  I told my mother I didn’t want to go to Chicago.

She was disappointed.  She really wanted to go to Chicago.

Instead, we went to Iowa.  We visited an Amish colony.

I have a feeling on the thrill-a-meter scale of zero thrills to ten, a visit to an Amish colony in Iowa is about equal to a visit to Chicago.  *shrug*

And with that, here’s Waylon Jennings, singing about all the places he’s never been:

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