A timely daily prompt to remind myself to look optimistic amidst all the recent loss and struggle in my life. A prompt to remind me of the positive and freeing powers of Maybe.
Being in a new city for the very first time is exciting and an opportunity for exploration. With so much city to see and so much time to see it in, I feel spoiled for choice.
I am enjoying a freedom of possibility that I have not relished in a long while.
It starts simply enough. I am in my rental car after visiting my one store for the day and I am hungry. So I get to choose where to eat. Maybe I eat at the mall I am already at. There’s a Panda Express here and believe it or not, there actually aren’t many of those where I’m from. Or maybe I get something by my hotel. It is an hour’s drive from Schaumburg to Chicago and I have not had anything to eat aside from a wonderfully named ‘Stroopwaffel’ courtesy of United Airlines.
Maybe I take a page out of Anthony Bourdain’s playbook. Jimmy’s Red Hots is at the halfway point, give or take, between Schaumburg and Chicago. I have no idea how to get there, it is in a more…questionable…area, but it promises 100% pure Vienna beef hot dogs with all the fixins’.
I took a risk. I acted on a maybe. And it was totally worth it.
The hot dogs have an incredibly satisfying snap and bite. The flavor of the meat is able to penetrate through the generous toppings of mustard, onion, relish, and hot peppers. There is something to be said about unapologetic tradition. Let’s not fool ourselves, the establishment has seen better days. The dogs are still served on sheets of parchment paper with generous handfuls of roughly cut and deeply fried potatoes. There is a gritty, natural, naturalization process that turns someone who eats here into part of the city and its culture. I am strangely and uncharacteristically okay with the oil on my fingers. The open air dining area is hot and I am standing against the counter. But I can see the image of Anthony Bourdain munching on his red hot, with his arms against the same counter, and the same smile that I smile to myself. ‘This is food, this is history, this is life.’
Dinner was no maybe. Dinner was set. I’m in Chicago! What do you do your first night? You go to where it all began. Pizzeria Uno. Home of the deep dish.
Let me tell you, I am a big eater. I can put it away just as well as the next guy. Do not let the place fool you. Do not underestimate these pizzas. That pan goes into forever. I thought the individual was child’s play and that the small would be easy. ‘It’s only four slices,’ the waitress told me.
I knew I was in over my head after the first slice. I was overwhelmed by the second. This is a heavy pizza. But it was good.
Tomorrow I get the chance to spin the wheel once more. Maybe I’ll stick in my area. Maybe I’ll go further south to the loop. Gotta check out the ‘bean’ after all. Maybe I’ll go to Quartino’s or Portillo’s. Maybe I’ll spend the entire night in my room. Maybe I’ll get dressed and go to the Vertigo Sky Lounge at the dana hotel nearby.
A new city gives new chances to explore ‘maybe’. ‘Maybe’ is not about uncertainty or doubt. It is about the expression of freedom of choice and the luxury of decision making.
And the end of a relationship, after some heavy healing and growth, means that ‘maybe’ becomes ‘maybe her’ or ‘maybe now’. I am not tethered to the painful memories of my past relationship. I am loosening the collar that has hung around my neck and prevented me from venturing out and enjoying the life I have. But here in a city where no one knows me and nothing reminds me of my past, I remember the joy and the pleasure of chance and of opportunity.
I am a free man in a new land. Maybe my next career opportunity is waiting for me in one of these cities. Maybe I’ll find my new home. Maybe the next beautiful woman who walks by me becomes the love of my life. I used to feel weighed down by the gravity of ‘maybe’. Maybe she never loved me. Maybe I am not good enough for someone. Maybe this is the best it gets.
But then again, maybe not.