The fourth of July comes quicker than I anticipate. July bleeds into August, an suddenly its September. Where did the summer go? It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since my big move to Ilinois. Now I can say I have experienced snow and sunburns in Chicago, Illinois. Something happens to Chigoians in the summer. Nights are a little longer, laughter a little louder, and ice cream shops a little more crowded. Although I love the snow, it’s nice not to have to walk outside with seven layers of clothes on. The city is bustling with excitement over the warm sun, and now fully vaccinated residents aren’t required to wear a mask in public. The snow has melted and this summer in Chicago is one to remember, but nothing that I expect.
Unfortunately, this summer was not a hot girl summer, but a sick girl summer. In late April, I got Covid from a co-worker and was in bed for nearly three weeks. My Covid experience wasn’t severe, but I was always tired. I have never felt more like sleeping beauty. Each day I would go walking in a secluded nature preserve, wear gloves and a mask in the kitchen, and hibernate in my room for the rest of the time. I watched a lot of Youtube that week. After I had fully recovered from Covid, I signed up for a vaccine as quickly as possible. One-shot, then two of the Pfizer vaccine. I am ready for a fantastic rest of the summer until I get sick again.
Just when I think I am in the clear, I got mono. One morning I woke up with a sore throat. Assuming it was the start of a cold, I didn’t think much of it. Until the cold and sore throat never went away. Several weeks later, I still felt abnormally fatigued. Maybe it is strep throat, I thought to myself. I make an appointment at the minute clinic for a strep test, but after the doctor looked at my swollen lymph nodes she speculated mononucleosis instead. The mono test confirmed her guess.
Sure enough two days later I have a fever, chills, headache, and a sore throat so swollen it was painful to swallow. I am in misery. I sip tea, attempt to sleep, and watch TV to pass the time. After about two weeks, the swelling in my throat goes down, and my fever breaks. At the end of it, I spent most of the summer bedridden.
Oatmilk Lattes & Cold Brews
Although I spent a lot of the summer in recovery, I still enjoyed my summer in Chicago. When I first moved here you couldn’t even walk outside without getting frost bite. Now, I spend most mornings on the porch and the evenings watching the pink colors of sunset.
When I first got to Chicago I started working part-time at a thrift store and freelance photographer. After a few months, I wanted a change of scenery. One morning as I am heading to Chicago to do some street photography, I miss my train. Instead of running home, I went to my favorite local coffee shop in town for a bit of a pick-me-up latte. When I arrive at the shop, I see a piece of paper taped to the front that read: “Now Hiring.” I asked for an application and immediately filled it out that evening. Within a few days, I got the job, and now I work as a part-time barista at Conscious Cup in Barrington and part-time photographer. I can make cappuccinos, cortados, cold brews, and lattes. My go-to summer drink has to be an oatmilk latte with lavender and honey. Simply scrumpltous.
Visitors & My First Photography Show
Over the next couple of months, I submit my photos to the art curator at the coffee shop I work at, and I get the chance to put my pictures up for sale in the coffee shop for July. This display is the first photography show I have ever done. I am so proud. It is surreal seeing my work on the wall every morning I headed into work.
Thankfully, my Mom and my High school friend Anna came in time to see my first photography show.
Crowded Streets, No More Masks, & the 4th of July
Aside from working, the summer has meant time with family, summer nights in the city, and celebrating patio season to the fullest. Although I am probably the least patriotic person I know, I enjoy putting on red, white, and blue to watch fireworks. On Saturday evening, I watch the fireworks in Barrington with my Nana, Aunt, and Uncle. Chicago decides not to do fireworks on the Fourth of July, so I am glad I caught some early in Barrington. Although there are no fireworks this year, residents and visitors crowd the streets of Chicago on the Fourth of July. The crowds are equally overwhelming and exciting.
The Navy Pier is packed, and it is nice to see all the restaurants and bars open again. Chicago looks a lot different than the ghost town I met in January. The water is so blue, and although the Coast Guard would disapprove, I wanted to jump in. The Fourth of July was the first time I saw the streets completely packed like they used to be (pre-covid). Now I am steadily seeing more and more people out and about. I am happy the world is opening up again, but I miss the empty streets back in January when I had Chicago all to myself.
The Art Institute & Bisa Bulter
Street photography is the main reason I spend time in the city, but visiting the Chicago Institute of Art is one of my favorite things about living here. One of my most distinct memories as a kid is visiting the Chicago Institute of Art. Until recently, it has been about ten years since seeing. The first time I walked through the doors, I had vivid flashbacks flooding back from my younger self, and I vaguely remembered several of the paintings. It felt like deja vu. Of course, since my first visit, I have taken it upon myself to visit the Art Institute as many times as possible. The last time I saw the museum, an artist’s work completely took my breath away. Bisa Bulter’s has handcrafted quilts featuring the black experience that are riveting. Bisa Bulter’s work is only available until September, so see it while you can.
Unfortunately, I found out the hard way the museum is not open every day. After working a morning shift at the coffee shop, my mom and I rush on the 12:18 to spend the whole day at the museum, only to find out they are closed on Wednesdays. Instead of visiting the institute, we walked through the cultural center, then headed down to the riverwalk. Although it ended up being a good day, I will undoubtedly check the hours next time.
Patio Season & Rooftop Bars
The summer also means it is patio season. The cool summer breeze allows Chicagoans to enjoy the fresh air on rooftop bars a little bit longer. There are a couple of rooftop bars I highly recommend. A perfect end to a summer night. A perfect end to the summer.
Living so close to the third largest city in America certainly has its perks, but by far the best one has to be living closer to my sweet Nana.