TAHLEQUAH — Our 2010 trip to Chicago came with something akin to weaning oneself from alcohol or any other addictive substance.
In the first place, I turned 50 a few months ago, an inevitability that has been accompanied by its own set of issues, hang-ups, and various sundry mental and emotional complications. Even when one swims as often as I do (and have the yield-shaped torso to prove it), half a century on the planet does strange things to one’s mind and body. To put it bluntly, it can kick your butt.
This is not a mid-age crisis, mind you. This hits at around 40; 50, on the other hand, means the arrival of your AARP card. This is “old” age crisis. (This is something a 50-year-old cannot discuss with his or her parents without causing offense; after all, for the most part, these folks are in their 70s!)
What better way to cheer up a half-centurion than a decent vacation, especially when someone else’s dime is involved?
Normally when we go to Chicago, we take the train there and fly back. This year, we did things in reverse, and flew out on Southwest. Believe it or not, we didn’t even have to change planes between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We did stop in Kansas City to pick up more cattle; I barely remember this, as I had consumed a Valium to endure the flight without agoraphobically sucking the seat up into my butt.
We arrived early enough Saturday that our room at the Hotel Palomar wasn’t quite ready yet. Which brings up the second point of apprehension. We normally stay at the fabulous Hotel Monaco, another Kimpton property just across the Chicago River. But my friend Nabil, the manager, moved to the newly opened Palomar, so we moved with him. It’s a fabulous property, with an elegant, distinctly modern design.