I fire up my phone and load the walking directions to the brew pub. I’ve never been in downtown Chicago. It’s certainly living up to its name, cold and windy. I’m reminded of Seattle in March.
I set off, walking several blocks then turn right on Madison. Oh crap! There is a drawbridge. I hate walking across drawbridges. They scare the heck out of me because I’m afraid of heights. To be scientific, I have acrophobia. It’s the height, surrounded by low to no walls, and see through bridge deck. My heart races and my palms sweat. Putting one foot in front of the other, not looking at either side, I scurry across.
Turning on to Wacker, I admire the stately stone edifice housing the Chicago Lyric Opera. Wacker follows the river flowing through Chicago. I cringe as the directions tell me there is another bridge and I can see it up ahead. Does this town have nothing but drawbridges? I now wish I’d chosen the subway instead of a nice walk through town. I scurry across the Wells Bridge, telling myself to just breathe, and keep my gaze straight ahead.
Only a few more minutes and I reach the brew pub. My networking event is in full swing. I glance out the window an hour later and it’s raining cats and dogs. A fellow networker asks where I’m from, I say Seattle, and immediately I’m accused of bringing Seattle rain with me. Judging by the downpour, they may be right.
When the party ends, it’s still a downpour. Lovely. The approaching darkness and rain twists the drawbridges into true terrors. I resort to a slow run across them. Water runs everywhere, which really reminds me of Seattle. My pants from the knee down and my boots are soaked. It’s nothing compared to crossing those bridges. Chicago is presenting unexpected challenges.
The next day, with dry pants and still slightly soggy boots, I head out to the convention center via the subway train. Getting off the Blue Line, I follow the rat’s maze of stairs to transfer to the Green Line. I burst out on to the Green Line platform and panic. The elevated train platform induces my acrophobia just like the drawbridges. Double crap! Luckily, the train arrives within a minute, but to my horror, the elevated train ride itself whips up images of swaying and falling right off the tracks. At my stop, I suppress the urge to push the guy in front of me aside and run screaming off the platform.
Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Chicago. But next time, I’m renting a car or taking the bus.