Monday, August 08, 2011

The Last Hurrah

While I mentioned previously that nothing went right when I was in Chicago, I did have some good times, with some terrific people. I got to ride the Metra and CTA again, which is always an experience. One of the experiences that is bittersweet. Long lines and long waits to board late, often dirty transports with hundreds of people will not be missed. Boarding transports of multi-ethnicities to arrive within mere steps of your destination anywhere in the metro area for pennies in comparison to gallons of gas, will be sorely missed.

Vanessa, the daughter I stayed with, lives in Kenosha, WI. just over the northern state line from Illinois. My son lives there as well, but he’s not much for pictures. Oftentimes, the state of my memory saddens me. I’d wanted to get pics of him and my two grandsons, Andre and Lenny, loading the truck, but the memory was napping during the work. The snapshots are in my brain though and hopefully I won’t lose them in some dusty back room of old age. They were a riot.  Together, they played an excellent game of Tetris packing the trailer. One of my unloading helpers said, “Tell your son there may have been a bit of room to spray in some insulation, but nothing more.” It was a perfect score!

My oldest daughter, Kim lives in Chicago proper, in the Logan Square neighborhood. Us girls planned a day together with all the cousins in the city. We meant to take the Metra in, but there was no easy stop to disembark and purchase CTA passes, so we drove in and parked in a Dominick’s parking lot for the day, which is illegal, but if you don’t tell, I won’t tell. We caught the Clark St. bus, which is one of those streets that go from one end of Chicago to the other. We met up with Kim, her cousin, Ulisa at Lincoln Park Zoo. Her son Andre is 16 and far too old for the zoo with his 'little' cousins.

                                                                           The kids had a blast running around, picnicking, and finding pictures of monkeys with Nana’s name. The sisters enjoyed being together and I was grins from ear to ear with the whole family, except my son. Even as adults, it’s always one or the other of the three who are not talking. This summer it’s Vanessa and Lenny. Last summer it was Kim and everyone. Before that, it was Kim and Vanessa. Hopefully, as they get older, they’ll come together—or get further apart. but, for this one day, I had mostly all.  
After the zoo, we all got back on the bus and headed downtown to Chicago’s Millennium Park, a gorgeous area between the lake and Michigan Avenue. The attraction for the kids is Crown Fountain Waterfall. Water pours from gigantic transparent brick towers on either end of a reflecting pool. Digital video photography is displayed on each tower and every five minutes, the person videoed puckers his lips and the water spouts, then returns to a flowing waterfall. I’ve been taking the grandsons since it opened and they always have cool summertime fun in the hot city. We sat beside one waterfall and got a constant cool mist on the sunny, 90 degree day.

My next excursion was to the Printers’ Ball at Columbia College Chicago. This is an absolutely must do for book lovers, writers, and creative folks of all types. The theme this year was “It’s Alive!” There were zombies, face paintings, Ouija boards, beer, wine, food, and of course books, books and more books. All FREE!! My first year I left with a shopping cart full. I’m a bit more discerning now because you can definitely give yourself a hernia hauling away books. I saw friends from school since Columbia is my alma mater, and friends from the Neighborhood Writing Alliance who are also published writers in NWA’s Journal of Ordinary Thought, and friends from Chicago’s extensive poetry and literary scene. In three weeks, this was the only time I was inspired to write. I sat across the street in a little park and jotted a few lines: My Last Dance With Chaos. I think that says it all. 
And then, of course, there was the great ice cream eating expedition to Scoops in Kenosha. I had a craving for a banana split for weeks and the one I got in Blue Ridge was more of a sundae. This, as you can see, was the real deal. Something else I'll miss, but not enough to stay. All in all, it was a good farewell.

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