Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My wife muses on Chicago with this poem:

This is Chicago


This is Chicago…I’ve never been. Colorado girl I can drink the air here. Came into Illinois and my first thought was Bradbury’s happiness machine. Pay the tolls and here we are.

This is Chicago…the traffic like hotwheels zipping by, people step off the curbs and into the street without looking, taxi cabs look like police cars and police cars look like taxi cabs. Lincoln Park, the birds aren’t afraid, ducks and geese and pigeons and finches, they take the bread from your hand. Like the people with the cars, they’re not afraid. Zoo where the seals swim upside down and have Mad Hatter eyes. Exotic birds flying overhead whistling to you and names to match their beauty: bleeding heart pigeon, blue fairy, emerald jewel bird. Alien looking plants in the conservatory. And the people: slender boys, a cop with tattoos all down his arms, and a girl on a yellow bicycle with a brown ribbon around her neck, so beautiful I wanted to take her picture, wanted to be her and ride a yellow bicycle all over the city. Crowded into the back of Second City with two women from Oregon, laughter, pictures of comedians on the walls, know-who-this-is?

This is Chicago…in the Museum of Science and Industry we watched chicks hatch, I’d never. There was blood in the egg, not what I’d expected. I was a child in awe. Giant train models, a video game exhibition, pong, asteroids, pac-man, current games and new ones. My husband in rapture. A giant heart, the most magnificent doll house in the world, Buster Keaton movies, so much more. Navy Pier. Parking costs atrocious. The stained glass gallery, my favorite the angel at the gates of heaven. Walking through Old Town for supper and you can have any type of food you want, omg the food!

This is Chicago…we’ve wised up and left the car at the hotel. Free admission to the Art Institute on Tuesdays, paintings I’ve stared at in books I stare at now in person, the books did them no justice, only gave an inkling. In the gift shop I buy post cards of our favorites, some we’d never seen before, I want to put them in a shadow box at home and have my own miniature museum. In Chinatown we have wonderful dim sum, lotus root buns, sesame and red bean rolls, gooey dumplings, delicious. Wrigley at 7:00. You BET I made sure we brought the tickets with us, nice people scoot over so we can sit together and won’t let us buy them a drink, insisting it’s a “common courtesy”. And what a game, Cubs 14-0. Felt bad for Florida, zero and zero until the 4th then Lee hits it just short of a homer in right field, so Ramirez gets the first homerun and it’s 3 runs that inning, then Lee nails that homerun in the 6th, Ramirez too, and the 8th is amazing. Lee two homeruns, Ramirez two homeruns, and number 8 (forgot his name) also got one. Eee!

This is Chicago…the Field Museum has a door to take you to ancient Egypt, mummies of people, cats, and falcons, the book of the dead on papyrus. We don’t shop much, the stores are expensive, even so-called discount stores. In Greektown though, oh…lamb and grape leaves and spinach-feta pie, beautiful triptychs and diptychs in the windows, pastries with chocolate and cream and honey and cinnamon. Anywhere you look, all over the city, there are pieces of art in the stained glass windows and carved into the buildings. People really like their dogs here and walk them down the crowded streets.

This is Chicago…the last day. I make a sand angel on the beach. Lake Michigan much too cold to swim in, colder even than the mountain lakes in Colorado. The Billy Goat Tavern where it’s no glam, no souvenirs, just cheezborger, cheezborger, you want hamburger? no single, double, we do double today, and old articles on the walls of the sweet man that started it. Magnificent Mile where the prices are more what you’d expect and I take a picture of a girl working as a living statue, give her a buck, she gives me a fortune and a wink. I wonder how people get that occupation, seriously. Hershey’s and the Downtown Dog for a bite to eat. My husband goes back to the hotel, he doesn’t like it much. So I wander on my own in Lincoln Park, discover the lily pond like a Monet painting, decide which building I’d like to live in if I could afford it (2120 Lincoln Avenue West), and say goodbye to Olivia’s bench by the Shakespeare Garden where I spent the most time here just hanging out.

This is Chicago…my husband says he’s glad he saw some things here, but he’ll never come back, that I can come back on my own if I want to…and I want to.

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