Travel wisdom

Image“Traveling creates anew like nothing else. Go on your own. Go with a good heart and with only enough fear to spur you on. Throw yourself upon the mercy of the world and learn to get by in countries where no one speaks your language. Come home changed forever and get on with being what you want to be and already are if you’d just get on with it. Imagine every dream come true in vivid detail, then work out the simple steps towards those dreams and start taking them, step by step until the dream enfolds you. Do everything you’ve never done because no-one else will want or care to do it for you. Time doesn’t wait; we are Here To Go and there’s only one Now.”  Grant Morrison

I plucked this off the profile of my friend and fellow Couchsurfer Adam S. It is indeed what inspired me to host him after receiving his request…well,  that and the claim he had “surfed with billions”! To date he has 99 positive reviews. Adam: Published writer, taught English in South Korea, juggler, meditator, avid reader and movie watcher, and finally, a would be, could be candidate for Jeopardy. While home was California, he was traveling all over the states and into Canada for a long stretch of time. I only hosted him briefly but our memorable outing was a walk that I refer to as the “night time degenerate tour of Chicago”.

Our aim was to have dinner in Uptown which is about a 2 mile walk from my apartment. We could have taken a more scenic route but the walk up Broadway, between Devon and Lawrence has it’s own special atmosphere. Most visitors to Chicago only get to see the famous downtown spots, Lincoln park and maybe Wrigleyville while so many interesting neighborhoods are ignored. Broadway in Uptown definitely aint no Michigan Avenue but it is the real deal! When daylight fades the city creatures creep out of the shadows. The memory of dinner ( was it Thai or Vietnamese?) is erased by an unexpected Flaming lips concert. I wanted to show him the Aragon Ballroom which was just around the corner from where we were eating. We were approached by a scalper that wanted to sell us tickets to the show for so cheap we didn’t believe they were legit. Adam suggested we first go and ask the bouncer when the show started and if those tickets were for real. He said the show had started 30 minutes prior, paused, looked at us and then said ” Why don’t you two just go in!” We were amazed at this stroke of luck. Adam hugged the bouncer who in turn said he’d rather be hugged by me.

I don’t remember ever getting into a concert for free and although I’m not a fan of the Flaming Lips, I was excited to be there. Then we went upstairs and oh, I forgot. The Ballroom always did have bad acoustics. It was probably grand back in the 1940’s big band days but never for the rock era. It was jam packed, 100 degrees with really expensive shitty beer. The lead singer had his sweaty face magnified and plastered to a giant screen behind the stage. He was doing a lot of talking but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. All I wanted to do was leave but I wasn’t gonna say anything and ruin it for Adam. Five minutes later, Adam asked me if I wanted to go. Yay! He wasn’t loving it either but how were we going to get by that bouncer without him seeing our ungrateful asses? Adam bulldozed through an illegal exit while I slunk past bouncer dude while he flirted with another patron. The concert did truly suck but the big thrill was getting in for free!

Walking back,  we tried to stop at The Green Mill for that historical Al Capone hang out cocktail but it was packed, there was a cover and the bouncer was much less charming than at the Aragon. “Fuck the Green Mill” I announced, ah so lady like. The way home was speckled with colorful encounters with the street crazies until finally arriving at the last stop, Gino’s North. This little charming Edgewater hang out is next to the Granville train stop. It has the same style 1930’s decor as Green Mill, including half moon booths and a fountain behind the bar with statue of naked lady. No bouncer, no cover charge, cheap drink specials, nice bar tenders and super cute 80 something lady that makes the pizzas. It was the perfect finale to our uptown adventure.

Circling back to the beginning quote, there is a point to be made. The world is full of even better freeflaminglipsconcert like experiences. While traveling,  I often find myself in the center of magic and it’s all about being open:


and fearless:


It’s harder for me to access that state of mind when I’m at home but that is exactly what Adam was up to and he made it happen with his good vibes.


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