Chicago, I'm happy to report, was fabulous as always. The city itself is a joy to visit, not only because it's so logically laid out (thank YOU Mrs. O'Leary's cow) and architecturally fascinating, but because the inhabitants are friendly as hell and drive in a civilized manner. And the food is fantastic.
But the other nice thing about the weekend was the affirmation that old friends are sometimes the best friends. Our annual visit to Chicago is partially about letting me get my fill of burritos as big as swaddled infants (La Pasadita, I heart you) and letting the husband go nuts at Sam's Wine & Liquors (lunchbox let down this time, but we still think American wine stores are like Disneyland for adults) but it's mostly about seeing our friends Jeff and Seann, a pair of fun, intelligent, warm and wonderful people who let us invade their home every summer for a long weekend.
It occurred to me this visit, as Jeff reminded me of some embarrassing aspect of my past, that one of the benefits of being in your mid to late 30s is old friends like him. I've known Jeff for 15 years, and as much as I don't need him to recount the Dreaded Bucket story of 1994, and he doesn't need me to remind him of the time he McGyvered spats out of tape when his middle school marching band was on its way to Comiskey Park and he'd forgotten that essential piece of marching band regalia (this makes my cry with laughter but it would take too long to explain why), as much as neither of us needs to remember this crap from the past, it's awfully nice to have someone around who does remember it. It's awfully nice to have friends who, though they live far away and you only see them once a year at the most, can just pick up the conversation where you left off the last time and keep talking. It's nice to know someone for long enough that they've seen you change from a bewildered-recent-university-graduate to the adult you are now (and vice versa), even if it does mean that the dumb, dumb, DUMB crap you did in your 20s had a witness who is unlikely to let you forget it. But that, in itself, is a benefit. It's good to have people around who won't let you forget who you once were and appreciate who you are now.
I feel like I should wrap this up with some sort of pithy, kick ass conclusion but frankly that's enough Jack Handey-esque warm & fuzzies for today. Suffice to say, old friends are the best friends and La Pasadita burritos are totally worth a nine hour, cross border drive.