It Wasn’t That Important

Dearest Rachel –

I can’t remember which year it was – after a certain point, they all tend to blur together, I’m afraid – but there was one other year that we couldn’t get a room in time at one of the four hotels surrounding the convention center (i.e., the Hyatt, the Hilton, the Embassy Suites – our favorite, but long since unattainable due to demand – and the Doubletree), and settled for a place in the newer, trendy Aloft hotel, situated on the west side of the municipal parking garage. Like with the Loews this year, it was a hike to get to it, although it had the virtue of being sheltered for the most part – although that year, it wasn’t all that necesary, if I recall correctly. We did discover the entertainment district that had been built up back there, and took several meals there that year – as well as in subsequent years together.

But just outside our window, there was something else we noted.

Yes, we have malls in our neck of the woods, but it was another one that we’d been unaware of up until then. For what it’s worth, the Aloft is in this picture on the right, a little bent out of shape due to a misstep in the process of taking a panoramic photo.

It was across the street from the hotel (and a major street it was – and is – too, coming just off of I-190), so walking there seemed to be out of the question, to say nothing of the fact that there was little enough spare time during the convention to do so even if we realized we could cross the road. But we told ourselves that, maybe someday when we have a little more time to wander around, we’d take the time to head over there and check it out. It wasn’t a bucket list, gotta-do-it-before-we-die type of thing, but if we had the chance, we wouldn’t mind going there.

A good thing it wasn’t absolutely necessary for us, I suppose. Because that chance never came – or rather, it came far too late.

Today, in the lull between interesting panels (and we have to choose the panels we attend judiciously, as it’s a much bigger deal to head to the center from the Loews than it would be from any of those aforementioned hotels), we had our chance. Since we hadn’t had a meal all day – we had plenty of snacks, of course, but that’s not really the same thing – I thought the three of us ought to go out for an early dinner before I needed to get over to the fanfiction panel. That way, we would be effectively settled for the remainder of the day. After dismissing some of the nearest places due to excessive formality (and while price doesn’t factor into these decisions like they used to, there is that, too), we agreed to check out the mall; if nothing else, they were bound to have a food court, with something for each of us to enjoy.

So we headed off, and, because of our location, we didn’t even have to worry about crossing that exit road from I-190, as the hotel was already on the other side.

I suppose I should have known from its name – ‘Fashion Outlets of Chicago’ kind of gives away the game – but basically, every store there was for clothes, shoes and various apparel and accessories. You might, by dint of your gender, be more interested in these stores than any of us three guys, but probably not to the extent of the stereotypical shopaholic (who – and again, this is a stereotype, but it is wrapped around a kernel of truth – is likely to be a fellow female, after all).

You might have appreciated this pair of T-shirts, though – although you would have probably objected to the idea of me getting the purple shirt. Either way, I wish I could wear this with you, regardless of what color the shirt is.

So maybe it’s just as well; it wasn’t that important for us to visit this place. The thing was, though, we didn’t know what was there, and we were mildly curious.

Well, now we know, I guess. And it looks like we didn’t miss much.

I mean, there is a fairly extensive food court, as expected – it even includes a place where you can get an alcoholic beverage to fortify yourself while you shop – you can even access the menu via QR codes on each individual table, so that’s mildly impressive, if unnecessary for our purposes.

As with any food court visit, it’s a relatively quick process, and while it may not be cheap, as such, it’s a darn sight more bang for one’s buck than one could get in the exhibit hall (although you and I still remember when no food was allowed to be sold there unless it was through the city’s own concession authority. So, some things have changed for the better, I guess).

I can’t stay long, as I’ve still got to make my way to the panel. There probably won’t be all that much to report, and you’ve been there so many times before with me, so I may just skip over that. Hope you don’t mind.

All I can say is that, one piece of advice they usually give to writers is to make a habit of it; do it a little bit every day, regardless of how inspired you are or aren’t. Strange that I’m finally following that advice, long after I’m doing anything of any relevance to the community.

Then again, the whole point is to write what you love. And I suppose writing to who I love counts for something.

Keep an eye out for me, honey, and wish me luck; I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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