Sometimes, road trips are taken to get us to places or events that mark our lives. They are our main mode of transportation, as we travel through the fields of corn and soybeans, the trees waving in the breeze. And while I often say that the journey itself can be just as great as the destination, sometimes those events that wait at the other end of the road are all you can focus on.
Especially if it’s been a long time coming, like 108 years. That’s a long time to wait. Longer than a lifetime.
So when the Cubs won the World Series, I naturally had to head home to Chicago and be a part of the historic celebration.
We had, after all, been waiting for this moment for generations. My grandpa, a lifelong Cubs fan, had lived and died without ever seeing them break their losing streak. It was a moment that was indescribable.
No one could really quite believe they had done it, and no one was really expecting it. I mean, sure, they had made it to the World Series. But, as every Cubs fan knows, they choke.
But this time, they didn’t choke at the crucial moments. They had some “Cubby Magic,” as my dad would say, and pulled it off. It was a sense of shock, of disbelief, of utter not-knowing-what-to-do-ness after they won.
But I knew I had to go home. It was a chance to be part of history; but it was also a chance to see my childhood friends. We were all converging upon the city for one special weekend we would never forget in our lifetimes.
And what a weekend it was. One friend flew in from Boston for just 24 hours, basically just for the parade and the revelry downtown and in Wrigleyville. Another and I both made 7-hour+ road trips from opposite sides of the country to get back. But it was oh-so worth it.
We laughed and cried, screamed our hearts out and chanted “Go Cubs Go” more times than we could count. Even though we were packed in like sardines and struggled to find our way in and out, it was incredible.
We were right by a confetti cannon and got to see fans of every age, (literally from babies to adults with walkers), fans from the North Side and even the South Side, fans with every color skin, fans of every gender and fans of every background come together and have one big celebration in the city center. It was truly epic. There’s no other way to describe it.
The city was electrified in a way I’ve never seen before, the only thing that’s ever even come close is the Blackhawks parade, but those were entirely dwarfed by this momentous occasion. And the only thing on anyone’s mind was the Cubs.
Even among the unfortunate few who had to go in to work downtown, there were baseball caps paired with suits, smiles and Cubby blue.
The city was dead and it was wholly alive at once. All normal activity had stalled, and it was all Cubs everywhere you looked.
There were vendors on every corner hawking commemorative gear. Restaurants with special menus specifically for the parade. The Trib was selling the Thursday and Friday paper and had a line wrapping around the sidewalk. People were buying six, seven, eight copies each. Everyone had to have one, and for each family member too.
And public transit was all Cubs too. The L was jam-packed with fans on their way to Wrigley, us among them. We could barely get on or get off, and even once we did, we couldn’t walk on the sidewalk it was so full of fans, packed in like toothpicks in a tube two sizes too small. Everyone wanted to be a part of a moment no one would soon forget.
But we made our way down to Wrigley, and got as close as we could to write chalk messages to loved ones who never had the opportunity to witness their beloved Cubbies win the big one. The police had blocked off the street around the stadium, so the closest we could get was the sidewalk on which we were standing. Hundreds of fans were writing messages on the bricks of the apartment buildings across the street, many of which are as integral a part of Wrigley as the field itself with their famed rooftops.
The bars of Wrigleyville were practically bursting with people, and the corner of Clark and Addison was simply at a standstill so everyone could get their picture with the marquee. Once we got our pictures and fair share of Cubby Magic, we went to get out of the melee and settled on a quiet and quirky coffee shop up the road. After a while we headed home, a day well done and for the books.
It was definitely worth the 7-hour drive.