The travel bug has bitten, and I'm feeling wanderlusty. I have just watched the ineffable Taste Buds ladies take Chicago. It is raining today, just outside the coffee shop window where I write, and I allow my mind to drift to a faraway island - out came the sun and dried up all the rain - where those negative Itsy Bitsy Spiders in my mind might climb away into ether.
It is summer, and friends are vacationing far and wide, to and from. My Instagram feed offers a highlight reel of their trips - beignets in New Orleans, crab cakes in Maine, mojitos in Mexico.
My lunch, for a bit of perspective: a handful of goldfish crackers and a banana smoothie.
I am envious, and yet, I know envy to be an entirely unproductive feeling. The grass is greener where it is watered, and after all, it is raining today. I have everything I need.
Still, I find myself texting my husband - Date night this weekend? - and when he responds, Sure! Where?, I get to work.
Like most long-term couples, we have the usual spots we frequent on those rare date night occurrences. There's the local pub that serves fried pickles with a vat of cajun sauce for dipping. The quiet bistro on the corner that offers a homemade carrot cake dripping with decadent buttercream frosting. And the merlot flight at the picturesque winery a few miles away? Incredible.
And yet, it's easy to get stuck in a rut, feeling wanderlusty for the adventures that lie beyond your fingertips when the truth is, our fingertips can reach further than we realize - if only we expand our horizons a bit.
After searching local reviews for something new and asking a few friends for recommendations, I discover a slew of great dining options to try:
If you're thinking sushi, you've got to try the Playboll Roll.
Have you ever been to that tapas place on the corner of Grand?
Do you like Indian? I know a great spot up north.
We settle on a dive bar that offers a handmade Bloody Mary mix pickled with local veggies, and it is, as promised, the best drink in town. The music is live, the breeze is warm and the food is fried. What more could a gal need on a random Friday night?
As we clean our plates and pay the bill, we walk to our car and the band plays on.
Where to? my husband asks.
The negative spiders - my wanderlusty travel bugs - were nowhere to be found. We had adventured, and I was full, happy, grateful.
Home, I say. I'm ready to go home.
This essay is sponsored by Ford, who knows the value of local eats. Watch the latest episode of Taste Buds Chicago below!: