An Unplanned Night in Chicago

When I visited Athens in March earlier this year, I was put in a dorm room with an American girl for a roommate. Kelly was a college student studying abroad, and she was a constant source of fun and encouragement while I went through an evaluation to work for House of Damaris. She bought me Greek snacks. She took me downtown one night to sit on Mars Hill and then grab dinner overlooking the Acropolis. She bought me a Nutella-filled doughnut after one day of evaluation was particularly hard.

My relationship with Kelly is pretty much “Hi, I’m a stranger! Can I room with you? And do you mind taking me into a city to show me around?” When a snow storm caused my mom travel anxiety, we decided to go to Chicago Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon to catch my train to Seattle. I booked a hotel, but messaged Kelly as a backup. She’s studying in Chicago now, and she immediately offered to let me stay the night with her. The hotel was cancelled, and off I went to Kelly’s apartment!  


After catching up, we decided to pick up Thai food. When we stepped outside, I screamed, “It’s snowing!” Kelly groaned, and I shrieked in delight. Pretty soon, though, her winter-aversion died. The biggest, fluffiest snowflakes were falling fast, and it was impossible not to be enchanted. We got our food, returned to her apartment, and decided to watch Love Actually, since it was suddenly and definitely Christmastime.


This morning, Kelly took me downtown on the L, and that’s when I realized that our relationship when I rely on her for lodging and travel guidance has remained intact. It was now bitterly cold with that Chicago wind kicking in, but we took pictures at the Bean and unsuccessfully tried to get reservations at a popular brunch place. Instead, we got Panera, which is far less exotic, but just as warm in terms of getting off the street. Then Kelly took me to Union Station, pointed me in the right direction, and we parted ways.


My friendship with Kelly is a perfect example of one of the reasons I love traveling so much. We met in a country foreign to us both under unusual circumstances. We knew each other for only a week, and we really only hung out for one night. But the unusual circumstances made our friendship stick in a unique way, and it didn’t feel weird at all to ask her to help me out. The fact that she did, and we had fun together again, makes me so appreciative of the random friends you pick up while on the road and outside your comfort zone.

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