That I totally enjoyed the Billy Joel concert in Chicago Friday (August 26) goes without saying. He is an incredible entertainer – as are all the musicians in his band. Of course, I have such a huge crush on him that it would take something truly horrendous to dampen my enthusiasm.
That I totally hated driving (by myself) through Chicago traffic to get to the concert also goes without saying. You know that “something truly horrendous” I mentioned earlier? The drive from West Branch to downtown Chicago nearly did me in.
I thought maybe getting lost cruising past the Quad Cities (again), a construction-zone traffic standstill, AND a closed exit to the last rest stop for 30 miles (!!!) might have used up my bad traffic karma before I even got close to the Windy City.
I was wrong.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the residents of the greater Chicago area, and anyone else hindered by my poor traffic-coping skills. Again.
After the potty/exit closed emergency, the drive was pretty uneventful until I reached the outskirts of Aurora, Illinois. (Although I did cuss myself for not purchasing an I-Pass. Frickin' tollway.) Traffic had just started to pick up, and I had just started to practice my deep breathing exercises, when I realized that in Chicago, 5 o'clock rush hour traffic starts at 4, and 4 o'clock rush hour traffic starts at 3:30, and it was currently 3:20. I began to wonder if delaying my departure in order to clean the kitchen counter had really been worth it.
My deep breathing turned to deep cursing when I noticed an Escalade riding my tail. I glared as he finally passed me, then realized that I was riding the tail of the Lexus ahead of me. Ooops.
Remember my love of frickin' tollways? I had just traveled across three lanes of traffic to reach the far left lane, when I had to make my way back to the extreme right lane to prepare for yet another cash-only transaction.
But wait! Six successful lane changes later I realized the toll was only for the exit. Which I was not taking. I decided to stick to the middle lanes from then on, just in case.
Up ahead, an electronic sign offered a helpful traffic update: Downtown 37 min. Really? Already? That long?
Yeah, no. Not so much. After another toll booth – for reals this time – and a good 20 minutes, the next electronic sign announced Downtown 30 min. Time. Had stood. Still.
Eventually I reached the I-290 exit, keeping to the left, as my Googlemap directions said. But I was the only one. After being in 4 lanes of heavy traffic, it was a little eerie suddenly seeing empty lanes. Had I made a wrong turn?
Then traffic stopped. Obviously I was right where I was supposed to be.
Good news! According to the next electronic sign, it would only be 10 more minutes to what I thought was my exit.
Ten minutes? On Venus maybe. I could have read War and Peace in the time it took me to get to the next exit. Heck, I could have written War and Peace.
I decided this was good news! As slow as we were going, I shouldn't be able to miss my exit. Then the traffic clog broke free and we were flying! Or going 25 mph, whichever.
Then we were stopping. Again.
This was still good news, because I had finally reached the exit to Lower Wacker Drive. And – get this! – “lower” doesn't refer to north or south, but “lower” than street level! (Who knew?) Suddenly I was driving through a narrow, 4-lane tunnel, which was really cool, but it was kind of dark and there were stoplights and traffic and I couldn't find the cross streets and I didn't know where I was and then WOW! A boat! I was next to the Chicago River and now I was turning onto Lower Michigan Ave (also lower than street level) and the next thing I knew I was turning onto Grand and I was at street level and then I was pulling into the parking garage and checking in to the hotel and getting ready and walking to the corner to catch the red line L-train to . . . .
|Trust me. We shared a moment.|
OH CRAP! I couldn't remember where Wrigley Field was!
Officer Posey of the Chicago Police Department very patiently explained how to buy my train tickets (return trip, too), and which train to get on and I practiced more deep breathing as I waited in line for 30 minutes to buy my tickets and then I was on the train, and chatting with all these other nice, middle-aged women, and we all got off the train at Addison and we were at Wrigley Field!
The lights went down, the lights went up and there he was! Billy Joel, center stage, sitting at his piano, hands flying across the keyboard, singing and joking. And that grin! Oh gosh! I swooned because I'm pretty sure I made I contact with him. And gee, isn't he just adorable?
And all that anxiety about traffic and getting lost and Lower Wacker was forgotten, because, wow, what a great show!
Then it was time to head home, and I headed out of Chicago for Iowa.