Last summer, my husband decided that we were taking a road trip to Chicago with a work colleague. I was hesitant – I hadn’t met this colleague, Jessica, and was worried about spending a weekend with her but Mike said not to worry. She, on the other hand, was excited once he mentioned it. You see, she works at the Shanghai office and has been to America several times, but has only visited Louisville, Kentucky. In her own words, “I want to see a real city! New York! LA!”

Chicago was closer.

The weekend itself was great. We did a lot of sight seeing and walking around the city. The architecture boat tour was perfect because Jessica wanted to see as much of the city as possible. What better way than to ride down the canal at a leisurely pace and learn about the city’s past with a beer in hand? We stopped in Millennium Park (Jessica didn’t understand the bean – or any street art for that matter), walked to Buckingham Fountain, and let her experience some Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s.

We spent an entire afternoon at the Art Institute – that actually lent itself to some interesting conversations! Jessica had asked us questions the entire time – what is that statue, why is it that way, how does she wash her hair, who is Father Time… you name it, she asked it. But at the art museum, I couldn’t help but laugh a few times.

First, there was an Asian exhibit. After Jessica read the placard in front of a gigantic and beautiful Buddha, she turned to us, pointed her index finger in our faces and declared “YOU STOLE FROM CHINA!” I was flabbergasted, but Mike pointed to another placard that stated that Japan and Korea was loaning the exhibit. “Japan and Korea stole from China then.” (I still giggle thinking about it.) But as we went through the exhibit, she took time to explain a lot of the displayed artifacts to us – a personal tour through Chinese history. When we were touring the American wing, Jessica took a picture of American Gothic and then just looked at it and all the people crowding around it, trying to take selfies with it. She finally said, “I don’t get it.” I told her that it was an iconic American painting of farmers. “But they’re not happy.”

Anyway, I tell you this short story to give the background. I took my camera to Chicago that weekend and decided to play tourist with Jessica. To be honest, I didn’t like many of the photos I took; I threw a lot of them out and even the ones I kept are still mediocre. I’m only sharing them a year later because I haven’t looked at them since then – no lie, they’ve been sitting in a folder untouched, raw files just taking up memory.

But now I have edited images. And they help me remember how inquisitive Jessica was. I know she enjoyed the trip and I know she’d like to go back – living in a large city like Shanghai and coming to Kentucky for every visit just isn’t as exciting as the “real cities.”