A Love Jones Lover Chicago Bucket List

Have you ever watched the movie, Love Jones? It’s by far one of my favorite movies. Larenz Tate and Nia Long play Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosely, a couple who live in Chicago and go through the ups and downs of a pre-social media relationship. The two have a love for the arts and poetry and an undying passion for each other. Chicago is the unofficial main character of this movie as the places they frequent include Grant Park and the Wild Hare. I was inspired to go to Chicago because of this movie. I wanted to recreate all the moments Darius and Nina shared together. This has been one of my travel goals for years and it would finally happen. One Saturday when I was sick of dreaming, I booked my ticket for the memorial weekend. I would bring my professional camera with me to channel Nina and my mac computer to channel Darius. It would be the perfect infusion of what I love to do write and take pictures for a whole weekend.

A Love Jones Lover Bucket List

The Sanctuary

The Spoken Word Lounge, 1200 W 35th St., Chicago, IL 60609

The Sanctuary is a cool-cat nightclub where the hottest poets in town share their spoken words and deep thoughts. The smoked-filled room makes for the perfect introduction into the poetic mind of Darius Lovehall as he shares with the audience his “Blues for Nina.” Unfortunately, the Sanctuary is just an illusion and doesn’t actually exist. But there’s a huge spoken-word scene in Chicago.

The Wild Hare

2610 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614

Darius and Nina’s first date went down here. The Wild Hare is a Caribbean-inspired bar lounge located in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. It’s particularly popular because of the live music that starts every night at 9PM. There’s a diverse crowd, from athletes wanting to enjoy an ice-cold Red Stripe to lovers conversing in the dimly lit corners of the venue. The walls are adorned with bright yellow, green and red hues and flags hanging from the ceiling. You can’t go wrong with the jerk chicken platter and a side of Jamaican beef patties. The Wild Hare’s mouthwatering menu is only enhanced by the sweet sounds of Bob Marley blasting through the speakers.

The Buckingham Fountain

301 S. Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60605

The lighting of the Buckingham Fountain is perfect for a romantic smooch. The fountain spouts every day from 8AM-11PM, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not named after the palace in London.

A Bookstore

Myopic Books 1564 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622

The scene of the crime… Darius is caught with another woman amongst the books here at one of Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstores in the heart of Wicker Park. Definitely not a high point in the movie, but dramatic!

Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP)

600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605

While the location isn’t featured in the movie, the essence of photography is peppered throughout, which makes MoCP well worth a visit. Although the museum change exhibits about five times a year, the current exhibition, Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity, is a must-see. The photographs in this exhibit are reminiscent of Nina’s work (if she really existed).

Chicago Stepping Class

Steppersusa.com

Darius and Nina showed off their chemistry while on the dance floor. If you’ve never heard of stepping or you’re just intrigued by the art, consider taking a beginner’s steppers class while in Chicago. Classes are $10-$15, but you won’t be disappointed.

Black Stone Hotel

636 South Michigan Ave. (lobby entrance on East Balbo Avenue), Chicago, IL 60605

The Black Stone Hotel has definitely been upgraded since the filming of the movie but still has its original charm. Go for a drink at the bar and see if you can snag a peek into the very room where the Annual Steppers Ball took place.

Chill along the shores of Lake Michigan

63rd Street Beach 6300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60649

“You only get one true love… two tops.” Lake Shore Drive is the perfect spot to take in Chicago. Take a walk, think about the one that got away and how to get them back.

Love Jones

Are you ready for a Baecation?

You think you know, but you have no idea.

That tagline will forever be in my head. As a kid, I spent hours upon hours watching the Real World on MTV. There was something so genius about putting a group of young, eccentric people in a house together and discovering who they really were at their core. Spend enough time with someone and their inner selves will begin to show. Whether it’s their passions, vulnerabilities or insecurities, it all begins to spill out. I can now say the same thing about going on vacation with a mate. If you really want to know your boyfriend/girlfriend go on vacation with them. What makes a baecation different from just hanging out at the house or in your neighborhood together is that both of you are completely out of your element. You will begin to notice things about how the person you’re with takes charge (or not). You’re more inclined to notice things like if your boyfriend will instinctually help you with your bags or if your girlfriend will make you breakfast in bed. Things that you didn’t know you were seeking might be revealed. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

I say this from experience. I took my first baecation recently and what was supposed to be an amazing opportunity to explore a new city that we both have never visited ended with the demise of our relationship.

Discretion: I am not writing this piece from a place of bitterness, more of a cautionary tale.

My relationship was not ready for this next step of traveling together. There were a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied and a lot of things that we both didn’t know or like about each other when we went away. When I am on vacation, I hate taking naps as soon as I get into the room. However, he wanted a nap, which turned into 6-wasted hours of a day. It gave me anxiety watching him sleep when I wanted to discover this new city; we had a whole itinerary planned and each hour that passed made me feel like we would get nothing done. Yet what he didn’t know is that I go to sleep really early so by 10PM I was turned down and this was prime time for him to turn up. He wanted to hit up a blues club around 11pm but by that time you could hear my snoring miles away. Our personality disparities were shown in many other ways and we ultimately realized this relationship wouldn’t work.

Before you decide to take a baecation with your mate you must have a discussion, and in this discussion be totally honest about your expectations for the trip:

  • How will we pay for the trip? Do you have a partner that will take care of all the costs? Sometimes as women we would love this, but it’s not always realistic for us working-class people. So to be fair you both will most likely be splitting the cost. Who will pay for flights? Who will pay for hotels? Or will you just go 50/50 on everything?
  • How will we pay for things while on the trip? I harbored a little resentment when we were on the trip and my boyfriend didn’t pay for certain things. It bothered me when we went to dinner and I had to pay half or when we went to an attraction and I had to pay for my ticket in front of the lady at the stand (who I secretly thought was judging me). Yes, I am petty (maybe a bit unrealistic) but these were my concerns.
  • Manage Expectations, What do you both want to do during the course of the trip and how can you compromise and get everything done so everyone is happy? Brainstorm all the things you would like to do and draft an itinerary.
  • How will we get to the airport? Together? Apart? When I went away with my now ex-boyfriend I was a little annoyed that he didn’t come to pick me up and we just go to the airport together. Granted he lives in Harlem and I live in Brooklyn (two different worlds) but it was 3 AM and I am a female in a taxi cab by myself. I’ll admit it was scary but I got to the airport safely. What I would’ve preferred was for us to go together. Again, maybe you are not as particular.
  • Are you a stay-on-the resort person or do you like to vacation like a local This is important! You both have to make sure you’re on the same page. If one person wants to explore and the other wants to hang out by the pool all day you won’t be spending much time with each other.

My best advice is to keep the peace, ignore little idiosyncrasies and live in the moment, at least until the vacation is over.

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