The last weekend of August was the last hurrah for my adventures this year. At least I think so. I can never be sure when I’ll be off on another spontaneous trip. (Ina Garten is coming to Chicago next month…) But for the present, I doubt I’ll be venturing outside the Midwest until Spring Break. I can’t tolerate the cold, as you well know, so I’ll need some warmth. I’ll just die if I don’t get some sun. Where will I go, though? Puerto Rico? Los Angeles? Mexico? Who can say? I certainly can’t. I’m not on topic, but you’re used to that by now. We’re discussing the weekend I spent in Chicago with my boyfriends in One Direction, not my future travel plans, so let’s get started.
Last year in the middle of winter — actually, I think it was Black Friday, but that’s not important — Jessica and I hijacked my father’s van and furiously drove to Walmart to get my sister’s credit card from my mother to preorder tickets to a One Direction concert that was taking place the next summer. We were successful and thought we did very well with our seats. Over the ensuing months, a lot of things happened and we travelled to Europe and I bopped over to Africa and I went to New York and LA. Finally, though it was time to go to Chicago and stalk the boys!
Since we had a delightful time in England riding the train down to Brighton (now one of my favorite places on the planet) we reserved seats on the Amtrak. It was scheduled to leave around eight o’clock in the morning and the concert wasn’t until seven that night. Perfect. We’d have plenty of time to leisurely get to town, relax in our hotel, the luxurious Drake, grab a bite to eat, and then make our way down to Soldier Field. THAT IS NOT THE WAY IT WENT.
We had to get up at an unholy hour of the morning to get to the train station on time, but of course the train was delayed. A LOT. It was delayed a little over an hour and I couldn’t think of anything worse. Oh, we had a good laugh about that later. We had time to kill, so Jessica and I walked around Osceola, admired the architecture — well, the one interesting building — and then bought some nibbles at Casey’s. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live near one because I would eat donuts several times a day and gain a considerable amount of weight.
Back at the train station, which wonderfully, hasn’t been updated once since its construction, the train grew more and more delayed as it filled up with irritated passengers waiting to get going. Jessica and a I sang and we danced and we put on quite a show for the other people, but I don’t think they were amused at us as we were with ourselves. Their loss. So, then I did Jessica’s hair. It was quite lovely, I thought, when I put it up into a swooping bun the likes of which I want on my own head.
We spent a considerable amount of time using Twitter and Tumblr to stalk the boys’ current location and where they might be staying. I was very pleased when I successfully located them at the Langham hotel. We thought of different ways to sneak in and make the boys love us, but even this pleasant diversion didn’t distract us from the stress of the train getting later and later.
We waited inside. We waited outside. We sprawled across benches. We walked. We did everything we could possibly do to entertain ourselves. We pretended we were on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo:
It was awful, reader. Finally around 11:30, the train chugged into the station. It stopped about two minutes later. This happened CONSTANTLY. It was becoming clear that we weren’t going to make it to Chicago in a reasonable amount of time, and I kept this quiet to keep Jessica from panicking. She is not good with time. She was already freaked out that we wouldn’t have time if we’d made it at 2:50 as we were scheduled to do.
To distract ourselves, we went down to the lounge car and had lunch. Then, exhausted from our morning of doing nothing but waiting, we took naps.
Psychically, and I truly do believe that, I was awakened by the presence of the grand Mississippi River. I always love the river and hope to someday own an old brick house that overlooks it’s majestic waters. I’m saving a little money from each paycheck to put a down payment on a crumbling fixer upper in a small village for my vacation home. I think everybody should have a place to escape to. I sang Old Man River as I always do and for a moment, I was happy. I love that song.
That joy died quickly, reader. The train was getting later and later and later and later and later. We both knew that concerts never start on time, but they wouldn’t wait all night for us. I don’t care much for the opening act, Five Seconds of Summer, but Jessica likes them and I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t be there in time for their debut. I didn’t realize how close we were cutting it, though.
Pissed to the point of hysterics, we went back down to the lounge for dinner. This was not going to plan at all, but this amused us. We have become accustomed to plans going awry and the odds never being in our favor. Just think of that horrible day we spent at Disneyland Paris! That miserable experience was still worse than this interminable train ride. I ordered a gin and tonic and was unamused by the proportions of gin to tonic. Jessica got a Pepsi and whiskey. That was actually rather good.
Barely tipsy, we made it back to our seats and finally saw the suburbs of Chicago. The train seemed to slow down with every passing second and I almost think it was done to annoy us. If so, it was a spectacular triumph on the part of Amtrak.
At 7:05, we finally chugged into the station and hurried from the train. We were unable to get to the hotel to dump our bags, so I had the genius idea to rent a locker. I love the lockers at Union Station. They’re rather reasonably priced and they are easy to use. Of course tonight they acted up. We shoved our luggage into one of them, paid, and the door refused to lock. There were no attendants and no instructions, so we went to a different set of lockers, shoved our luggage in, paid, and finally got locked up. By this time in was 7:15 and we were both panicked.
Finally on the street, I showed Jessica how to order an Uber and in a few minutes we were making progress. A few seconds later, we were making no progress whatsoever. Why is it that I can never easily get to a concert in this city? Remember when I was in a bus chase to get to Beyoncé? This is pretty much more of the same. When we told our moody driver, Adam, that we were going to a concert, he seemed to perk up somewhat and began making some wonderfully illegal maneuvers. Still, we sat for minutes at a time. We drove on the right shoulder for a while. We barreled through tunnels. After what felt like ages, Soldier Field came into view and we abandoned Adam and scurried through a park to the stadium. As we neared, we could hear the finale of Five Seconds of Summer’s set. We missed them, but we would make it in time for the boys! Jessica was understandably saddened.
For reasons that we don’t really understand, there was no security whatsoever and it didn’t take but two seconds to find our seats. We loved them instantly. We had a great view of the entire stadium and there were huge monitors to see everything. As we waited for two of my future husbands and the other three, we sang along to the music videos, did the macarena, and then participated in a really shitty wave that picked up steam and looped around and around the field. That was all fun, but I wasn’t here for dances that I did in middle school. I WAS THERE FOR HARRY.
We were even photobombed!
That woman behind us is now my hero. We look disgusting.
THEN THEY CAME OUT LIKE ANGELS. They all sounded beautiful, but I didn’t really care how they sounded. I just wanted to look at them. Harry and Zayn were looking dreamy. Harry wasn’t wearing a bun or a headscarf, he let his hair flop about majestically.
Zayn had his swooped back gorgeously and my body went into a swoon.
Marry me. Of course I have a dirty joke for this picture, but I’m a gentleman, so I won’t say it.
Louis was looking good, too, which made me happy because he’s been looking too sloppy lately. I never pay much attention to Niall, but he looked fine. I was also delighted to see that Liam was wearing pants and dressed like a professional teen icon for his birthday.
We could barely understand a thing they were saying, but that didn’t matter. They sang and we all sang and it was wonderfully loud.
The only really irritation was that the giant screens played more little videos and designs than closeups of the boys. That’s all I wanted.
When they came back from a tiny little intermission Harry was wearing his headscarf! It was glorious. It was like winning the lottery. Later on in the show, he put it into a bun and I died. I literally dropped dead. Thankfully Zayn’s angelic falsetto brought me back to life.
And then rather abruptly it was over. We’d had a hella good time, but it seemed to go by so quickly. None of their trademark nonsense had happened. Harry didn’t eat a banana. There weren’t any knock-knock jokes. Liam talked a bunch about his birthday. They said we were super loud. It was all nice, but Jessica and I had a bit of disappointment to deal with. We wanted more of them. Little did I know then what would happen, but that’s a story for the next part of this blog series. Anyway, I think we were exhausted from the day’s travel and stress.
It was a huge struggle to exit the stadium, they wound the entire mass of us through a park with a small walkway. It was stupid and it took ages to break free onto Michigan Avenue, but we finally did it. We had to walk to Union Station which took a little under an hour. We were sweaty and disgusting, so we ordered a cab to our hotel. This time we used a service called Lyft, which worked exactly like Uber.
Finally after all that travel and excitement, we made it to the Drake and got checked in. The room we had was absolutely massive and I loved it at once. It was easily three times the size of the one I’d had last year. It had views of Michigan Avenue on one side of Lake Michigan on the other. It was a corner suite with windows all over and I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures! I said we were exhausted.
We were also half mad with hunger, so we ordered some really overpriced room service and reveled in it. I had a burrata and tomato salad that was divine and Jessica had some French onion soup.
Stuffed and overtired, we fell asleep immediately unaware of the excitement we’d find the next day.