“Hey you gonna be around this weekend? Thinking about coming in…”
This is a text message I receive from friends and family members frequently. So you need a place to stay Friday and Saturday? Fine, I’ve got couches. You need tips on what to do Friday afternoon while I’m at work? I’ll probably just tell you to go to the bean or the SkyDeck in The Willis Tower. Yeah, of course you can keep my keys for the day. Just don’t lose them, and make sure you lock the place up before you leave. Go nuts on all the touristy shit Friday so I don’t have to drag your ass all over the city Saturday morning while I’m nursing a hangover.
These people know that you won’t say “No, you can’t come stay with me this weekend.” You’re a monster, but you still have a soul. Of course you’re going to be around this weekend, and yeah, you’ve got plenty of room at your apartment. I love the city and I love my friends- but I also love the freedom that comes with not having a tag-a-long everywhere I go. I’m thankful that these people are willing to take time out of their own busy lives to come visit me in Chicago. It’s flattering. Having said that, it is also an enormous drain on my patience and wallet. Chicago is the hub of the Midwest, and being from Michigan, it is very, very easy to make a spontaneous trip to the city if you’re feeling so inclined. Some random weekend in March where I had no concrete plans is instantly ruined with news that someone is coming in to visit for the weekend. I hate hosting people, and no matter how old I get I don’t think I’m ever going to be fully into it.
That girl who wanted to get sushi with you this weekend? Better cancel because you’re eating sushi with your friend from out of town now. That plan you had to stay in on Friday and hit the bar hard Saturday night? Nope, sorry not happening. And oh yeah, that small get together you were like 75% sure you were going to attend? You’re not going anymore because nobody wants to be the kid who is texting their friend asking “cool if I bring one or two of my buddies with me?” Even if I know that the person throwing the party is super chill, I still hate asking that question. It’s annoying for anyone to have to answer.
If you give me a few weeks in advance to plan for your arrival, it’s not a big deal to me. I’m still going to internally bitch about it when you ask me to take you to a “Chicago hidden gem” for lunch. Or when we have to go to Millennium Park while I watch you take the same Instagram picture that a hundred other people are taking. But it’s a little less pressure if I can mentally prepare for your arrival and then at least have a street fair or something to take you to. I don’t think people realize that Chicagoans-or anyone who lives in a big city, for that matter- still get Starbucks like everyone else. They eat at Panera and Wendy’s on occasion. Sure, there are some great restaurants that you won’t find in smaller parts of the country, but going to niche restaurants and bars with 13 dollar drinks gets old fast.
If I could have friends and family come in and I didn’t have to be a tour guide and chaperone for the weekend, I’d love it. Like Friday they get in, you guys get dinner and drinks and then Saturday they go out on their own exploring. That would be perfect, but rules and regulations for normal people say that I have to go to the Chicago Bean. I have to take you shopping on The Magnificent Mile. And I most definitely have to take you somewhere with Chicago style hot dogs because “you’ve heard so much about them.” It’s a fuckin’ hot dog, please temper your expectations a little bit.
I don’t think people realize what they’re doing when they give me one, two, three days notice about their upcoming arrival. It’s a bit rude, yes, but the bigger issue here is that the pressure to entertain for two straight days (maybe even three if they want to do a Sunday Funday and then catch the Amtrak home) is immense. People in town for a few days don’t want to nurse a hangover on Saturday morning. They want to wake up at 8:00 a.m. and go get breakfast because their trip is finite. I want to lie in bed until at least 10:00 a.m. and then maybe go to the gym or hit the grocery store. I can’t do that when I have someone crashing on my couch asking me which bar in Lincoln Park attracts the sluttiest girls.
Look, I really didn’t mean for this to come off as me being an asshole. Like I said, I love my friends and family. That’s the truth. But the pressure of hosting is just too much for me. It’s the non-stop “Let’s go do something” mentality that takes any fun I should be having out of the equation. I think people who live in studio apartments are the smartest people in the world. You want to stay at my place this weekend? Sorry, no can do there’s simply no room. Direct your visitors to a nearby hotel and I bet your stress level is cut in half..