I moved to Chicago in an October, which means I was here for almost an entire year before I got to experience a Chicago summer. Its amazing I got through it, because Chicago winter is the worst, but Chicago summer makes it all worth it.
I loved my first Chicago Summer. I don't remember very much of it, but I do remember spending a lot of time lusting after the boats in Belmont Harbor.
"Next Summer, I am going to make a friend with a boat." was my declaration. Its a pretty ridiculous request, but not completely without merit. There are a lot of boats in Chicago and they all seem to have owners. Surely I would meet one who liked me enough to let me ride around and drink on his boat.
We are standing on the precipice of my fifth summer in Chicago and I have yet to make a boat friend. I'm starting to get frustrated. Much like my green river fears - I am terrified that I am going to leave Chicago never having had a friend who I share similar interests with and makes good conversation and also happens to own a boat on the Lake of Michigan.
There are many girls who feel like the conversation piece is not really necessary and while I can sympathize with the unspeakable urge for boating, it seems almost like very mild form of prostitution to not at least pretend like you want to talk to this person.
I know people who know people who own boats, but its not the kind of relationship where I can just wake up on a sunny Saturday morning and know my plans without even getting out of bed (honestly - if I knew someone with a boat I would probably never do anything else during the Summer). Making these connections essentially useless, except for giving me a taste of the good life and then leaving me a cracked out junkie, crying for more.
I find the lake to be pretty gross and unappetizing as a swimming location (this is my East Coast snobbery coming out. Give me the Atlantic or give me death, people) but for some reason the bacteria can't affect you if you enter the water from a water slide or even just a dive off the back of someone's pontoon. I don't know how it works, but I'm sure there is some science to back it up.
It's also really just my WASPy nature. I am meant to be on the bow, decked out in seersucker and a souvenir captain's hat while drinking a Rolling Rock (pony bottle sized) and discussing the finer points of Bon Iver's new album. Don't hate the player, hate the genetic game, my friends.
Just like all four years previously, as I've watched the boats creep back into their little boat nooks, I've begun scheming just how this is going to be my year to make all my nautical dreams come true.
I cannot make a personal ad not sound creepy (mid-20's girl ISO someone with boat to quote 30 Rock, talk about the New Yorker and drink local beer with...on your aforementioned boat), there are not-so-nice names for girls who sit around the harbor waiting for an invitation, and at this point, I don't really have the bikini body or the shameless self-promotion for that, and I've tried asking all my current friends, but they're all the same friends I had this time last year. I should win bonus points for being a good and loyal friend, despite the fact that they have nothing to offer me from Memorial Day - Labor Day.
I'm left being nice to everyone I meet and trying to find something to talk about, just on the off chance that after we discuss our shared enjoyment of Margaret Atwood books they'll say, "Hey, do you want to come on my boat sometime?"
I find that this increasingly happy and friendly makes me almost completely blend in with my Midwestern surroundings. And then I figured it all. These people are only so nice, because they're just hoping someone will invite them out on their boat.
Well played, Midwest, well played.