The Windy City… Oh how I love thee.

Hello my rebels and not so rebels!

It is officially July, where in the world is this year going??

My step dad used to always tell me that once you hit a certain age time flies, well ladies & gents time is flying. My biggest reminder of time flying is when I went to Chicago this past Father’s day weekend.

I hadn’t been to Chicago, let alone anywhere outside of the state of Florida in 5+ years and I couldn’t take it anymore. It was my first Father’s day in a while that I wouldn’t be with at least one of my kids so I figured since they are going to be spending the day with their dads, it’s about time I go see my dear old dad. (lol he’s not old… I just have fun teasing him.)

Going to visit my dad always comes with many perks, not from the airlines because flying these days is crazy, but in the sense that I get to see family, I get to hang with my dad, I get to eat my abuela’s BOMB ass food. All in all, good stuff is always expected when I’m in Chicago and this trip was no different.

I started my trip my favorite way, going to eat breakfast, getting changed and going to hit the city to see my grandparents and my uncle. I was so excited I felt like a little kid again.

Growing up I loved spending the summers in Chicago with my dad and my grandparents;  hanging out with my uncle and walking to the corner taco spot or my personal favorite taco bell. (don’t judge me, everyone has a guilty pleasure lol) Going there for that weekend gave me that same excitement. Seeing old neighborhoods, seeing family and friends and feeling that sense of home again.

This trip was a little different for me because my main goal for the trip was not to just spend time with my grandparents but to make it quality time. Get to know them a little more and enjoy their insight in ways I know I couldn’t the past few times I came to visit. Spending time with each of them is great. My grandfather is sure to always have a hat on and a puerto rico shirt and my grandmother is one of the flyest abuelas I know. Hair always done, nails on point and she always makes sure her outfits on point. lol My abuela is goals. Spending time with them was great, catching up with them and learning all about them as they are now was so enlightening but it definitely had a sad moment. I learned about a great aunt that passed away in Puerto Rico due to the storm that impacted most of the island. It broke my heart hearing that as I know she is only one of thousands. Seeing the sadness yet the strength that came from my grandmother as she told me this story made me damn proud to be her granddaughter. Visiting with my grandfather was just as fun as he lives in a senior rehabilitation facility and there’s viejitos everywhere. I loved it, except for the ones that kept staring at me like they wanted me to be their granddaughter. Spending time with my grandparents reminded me of my grandparents that live down here, my mom’s parents, and I was given a renewed strength that I know exactly where it comes from.

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My dad is my best friend, I can tell the man anything and he listens, gives advice when needed and doesn’t pass judgement. He’s the cool dad with earrings that taught me to love my alternative/rock side just as much as my hip hop/spanish side. When my dad are together we can walk and talk for hours, it’s always a good time. Our tradition when I used to come for Father’s day when I was younger was to head to the Puerto Rican festival for at least a day and then find something else that’s fun to do. This year we went on the hottest Saturday I’ve ever experienced in Chicago, no really, it was hot as HADES out there.

Being that I hadn’t been to a festival in so long I was so excited to go in, eat some bomb ass Puerto Rican food, dance to some good music and enjoy the vibe. Well that didn’t quite happen this year. It’s not difficult to catch the vibe at the festival because the moment you get out of your car, hopefully once you find parking to park by Humboldt Park, all you see is Puerto Rican flags everywhere, you hear salsa, merengue and reggaeton blasting from everywhere and the cars going down the street with people yelling and having a great time. Now the festival is good times but of course being in Chicago, you always have to be cautious of your surroundings. The festival was different this year as in previous years there weren’t as many security precautions as there are now.

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The lines to get into the festival went down at least a block and a half at both entrances. Now I understand the precautionary procedures and why they are put into place, please let’s check everyone’s bags but not with only one person doing the checking. That alone left people waiting for what seemed like forever. Which is something that we (my uncle, my dad and I) did not do. It was sad to see not many people made it into the actual festival that day and seeing so many people walk out of line. Definitely bummed me out but as I told my dad when I arrived, I wanted to be a tourist this trip and see some of the sights I haven’t seen in so long.

Which leads us to the “Magnificent Mile”, Michigan Avenue.

I love seeing and attempting to take a picture of the skyscrapers, going into all of the stores and seeing all of the things I NEED but don’t have enough money for (lol I hate window shopping), the cultural diversity alone walking the blocks of Michigan Avenue is so refreshing. I love being able to always see people showing off their artistic or creative ability in one shape or form, whether it be drums, guitar, violin, singing, even magic tricks, all of those things give me the sense of home. My dad and I walked down Michigan Ave, saw the water tower, saw the lake (which btw I took a BOMB picture of below) and did some souvenir shopping.

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Being that we were downtown (it seems like the place in every city that all homeless people go) I did expect to see a homeless person or two, however I didn’t imagine seeing the amount people I did see down there, there were at least about 15 in total; and even some men were down there with their their little kids. My dad and I are just casually walking by a store and there I see a toddler and his father just hanging out in front of a door to a buildings to find a safe place to sleep. Completely broke my heart. Made me wish I lived in Chicago so I could find a way to help in the community. Which lead me to the final thought that I want to do more in my own city, but that’s for another day.

Father’s day was spent just how I wanted to spend it, with my dad, my grandparents, my uncle and later with my dad’s amazing friends. It was a great way to end my trip. Super relaxing, ate some bomb homemade Mexican food and enjoyed the moment.

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The next day it was time to come home and as always it’s bittersweet for me. Of course I was SO excited to come home to my babies and my dogs but Ugh! like the 7 year old that I felt like, I didn’t want to leave my dad. I gave him the biggest hug and thanked him for the best weekend I have had in a WHILE and took my butt through security crying like a baby. lol

I came home, unpacked, got myself ready for the week and was so refreshed and ready to conquer my world again, one day at a time.

Thank you Chicago for the hospitality as always, until next time

— Val Monique

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