Driving from Windy City to the City of Sun was almost unbearable. My friend and I decided to cross the state line on Thursday because we knew better things lay hidden on the other side, but as I drove, the wind whistled through my windshield wipers, ceaselessly howling at us for the entire hour it took to get there. When we finally arrived in the City of Sun, the wind abruptly stopped. It was like magic.
Our first stop was at a coffee shop in an alleyway. We climbed a flight of stairs to reach this supposedly legendary coffee shop. Upon entering, I took in my surroundings—the cultured people, the windows overlooking the town below, the aroma of coffee mixed with lunch food, the laughter, the different atmosphere of each of the four rooms one could choose to sit in—and I thought that in a way, it resembled a café in Hawaii I had once been to. This city has never failed to surprise me; it could be so many places at the same time, even bringing back island memories.
In that coffee shop, I sipped the best-tasting Sweet Chai I have ever had. The creamy texture and blend of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom) were perfect. The rest of the day was spent exploring similarly magical places and strolling the sunny sidewalks of Oldtown. Whenever I come here, I never know if my happiness arises from the positive vibes that everyone in this city radiates, or if I’m just happy to not have to wear a sweater. Probably both—but I was feeling that way on this particular day, too: light and light-hearted and filled with light1 – perhaps an even stronger sensation than usual.
The last shop we entered was one that sells the most beautiful and expensive clothing that I would never buy but always enjoy browsing through. It also sells a variety of locally made jewelry and candles. I had to smell the candles in antique mugs because I always do—and they were the best-smelling candles I think I will ever smell. The candle-maker wouldn’t give away her secret, so I bought one: Fig. To this day the scent lingers in my nostrils.
We were so caught up in the spontaneity of the day that we could only find time to get lunch during late afternoon. After almost half an hour of deciding where we should go, we finally drove to a sandwich shop on the other side of town. The warmth of the day had been consistent, even at this time. As we arrived, I remembered that today, March 20th, was the first official day of spring.
“Hello! Did you know today is the International Day of Happiness?” a smiling woman greeted us when we walked inside. It was like she was asking us, “Did you know you’ve been wearing your shirts inside out for the entire day? No wonder everyone’s been staring at you!”
“Are you serious?” we gawked in unison. No wonder we were so happy.
“Yes, it really is! And it’s the first one ever!” she handed us smiley face stickers that we stuck on our shoulders. “Now if you’d like, you can write down on that poster what you’re happy about today.”
Well, I couldn’t have been happier that those threads of destiny2 had pulled me and Destiny to our favorite city on a sunny day to celebrate happiness on the first ever International Day of Happiness. We would have never known otherwise. I wrote, A day in my favorite place with my best friend and sunshine.
- See “Region of Pure Air” published Dec. 27
- See “Threads of Destiny”, published Feb. 19