Monday, May 24, 2010

big city musings from a small-town girl

Through a sad twist of fate, I have lived all my life in small Ohio towns, but I dream of big cities. Regular readers will know how much I love New York, but I also really love Chicago. Like many Midwesterners, it was the first big city I ever visited - in photos of my stay there at Aunt Helen and Uncle Fred's duplex on South Loomis Street I look to be about eighteen months old - and it is certainly the big city I have visited most often and where I have spent the most time.

I have driven to Chicago, taken the train, and flown, so unless some sort of Great Lakes steamer line re-opens - which, hey, is not a bad idea - I have gotten there every way I could. I flew this time, and since I am such an infrequent flyer, was amazed anew at how quickly I could travel from one reality to another. Landing at O'Hare is always an overwhelming experience, and my heart filled almost to bursting when I finally saw my tall, handsome son scanning the crowds for me. Okay, I know I am biased, but, damn, he is a good-looking guy.

We rode the blue line back to the city, talking so busily that I didn't notice the famous skyline at all. I only stayed with Tom and Kristy for a long weekend, so I include a few impressions that really struck me on this visit. The first morning I was there, I heard Kristy quietly get up and take the dogs out. I sat on the couch and gazed out the window at the view so infinitely different from the one I see from my own front window. I cracked open the window so that I could hear and smell the city. I love that smell, you know?

Tom and I spent a good part of Friday at the Art Institute, checking out the new Modern Art Wing. Tom is good enough to accompany me there whenever I am in town. I know he enjoys it, but I suspect that he does not experience the same pleasure I do when visiting a museum with him or his sister. I treasure those times more than I can say. I feel that we fostered a love of the arts in both of our children, and I am reaping the benefits of that now.

I went to Knit Night with Kristy at her favorite yarn shop, Loopy Yarns. I was grateful to Kristy once again for re-awakening my love of knitting, and grateful to knitting for helping to strengthen the bond between the two of us. I enjoyed watching the interaction between Kristy and her knitting friends, and was as proud as any mom to observe how much they all liked her.

We spent most of Saturday north of Chicago. We went shopping at IKEA and at Mitsuwa, an amazing Japanese bookstore/supermarket/travel agency, with a food court I wish was in every shopping mall in the U.S. Tom showed Kristy and me his office in Evanston, we walked along the nearby beach, and I waded in Lake Michigan. It's the rare body of water I can walk along without kicking off my shoes and stepping in. We drove further north to Wilmette to see the fantastical Baha'i temple there. Seriously, look it up. Words cannot describe how serene and lovely it is.

As we drove through the city streets after a long day on the road, Kristy opened the moon roof. "Look up, Anne," she said, and there was the Sears Tower (or the Willis Tower for those who care to be correct) stretching high into the sky directly above us. It was incredible, and a fitting end to my stay there. I flew out the next morning. It was difficult to leave after such a short time, but it was a perfect visit, and another day might have spoiled that.

I am already dreaming of my next trip to Chicago. Perhaps a stroll down the Magnificent Mile or a Cubs game at Wrigley Field or maybe something entirely new. One never knows in the big city.


Elise said...

I am so incredibly jealous! To be honest, in my current state of perpetual poorness, I would give my right arm to go on a vacation ANYWHERE right now. But this sounds like an especially amazing time. Pinellas County is one of the most densely populated counties in the country, but there is no culture or depth to the people or places here. The beaches are ok, but that's pretty much it. To visit a culture-rich city like Chicago would be a breath of fresh air.

Janet said...

Its just like being there. Ann, keep on writing.

anne mancine said...

I wish there was some way we could get you to Chicago, Elise. Tom and Kristy would show you a fantastic time! Kristy is already a fan of yours after seeing those videos you and Caitie made. ;)

Thanks, Janet. I can't stop - it's my therapy.

Kitty said...

That's really sweet. Glad you had a good time and have such a good relationship with your kids and daughter-in-law.

I really love Chicago, though I've only been there once, and for a few days at that. The impression I came away with was 'wow'. Modern and cool looking. I remember being driven along the lake in a cab.

You're lucky to live near there and to have such fond memories.

anne mancine said...

Chicago is not New York, but it doesn't care. It's so Midwestern, and as a life-long Midwesterner, I gotta love that.