The Billings kids eat Chicago

Say, "Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!"

Say, "Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese!"

I’ve been in Chicago long enough now (six months!) that it seems odd to me to realize that only 3/4 of my immediate family has been to visit me. My brother, stuck in his last semester of college, hadn’t made it out to my new flyover state home — until yesterday.

He and fifteen of his closest friends landed at O’Hare yesterday for a financial management conference (geekery runs in the family). The plan was to meet them all for dinner somewhere.

At 4:30, my stomach started rumbling. This is the downside to being skinny: You’re hungry a LOT. I can wait, I told myself. He texted me: “We’re gonna eat around 5:30.”

At 5:30, he texted me to say that it was going to be another hour.

At 6:30, I texted him to say that I was leaving work, and if they weren’t ready for dinner I would just swing by the hotel to say hi.

He gave me the room number they were hanging out in. He texted me a few minutes later to say they were moving to a different room. When I finally got to the hotel (after making a right instead of a left because I am talented like that), I knocked on the specified door. Silence.

My phone buzzed. “Were r u?”

“I AM OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR.”

“were gonna be in the lobby”

Sigh. Okay. Fine. Back to the lobby.

…which was completely devoid of anyone resembling my brother, or a gaggle of college kids. I called him.

“Oh, we’re just outside the revolving door.”

Can’t you just STAY PUT? screamed my feet, which I had wedged into high heels that morning for the first time in weeks.

I walked out the door. “No, Carson, you are NOT outside the revolving door,” I said. “Are there perhaps TWO revolving doors?”

“Uh…I dunno?”

“Here is what you are going to do,” I said. “You are going to walk back into the lobby. I am also going to walk back into the lobby. You are going to stay there until you see me.”

As I went back inside, I saw him enter the building from the opposite end. A sheepish grin spread across his face, and he tried to hug me while simultaneously acting cool.

I choked back the primitive instinct that told me to give him a wedgie.

He’d brought me some dried herbs from Mom, and also picked up yesterday’s copy of my old school newspaper, The Collegian. “I thought you might like to see it.” (It’s now on my coffee table, where it will probably stay until it gets completely ratty and has to be thrown away.)

The group meandered toward Giordano’s for deep-dish pizza. It was so cool — and so weird — to walk down Michigan Avenue with my brother, narrating as I went: “Dao has good, cheapish Thai food. Descartes is good for coffee. Millenium Park’s just down this way.” And, of course: “Oh, yeah, this is Tribune Tower. I work here.”

Six months in, I’m still incredibly blown away that I get to walk into that tower every day. But that’s another post.

We ate pizza, Carson’s friends showed me video of him conquering the Buffalo Wild Wings hot wing challenge, I gave him a noogie, and he gave me a hug goodnight (which, for my brother, is the ultimate sign of affection, considering he usually dodges all attempts at human touch). I hope we’ll get to hang out again while he’s here, but it meant a lot that he wanted his dorky older sister to hang out with him and his (also dorky) friends, just for an evening.