Monday, September 10, 2007

postcard from the outlands of h*ll, IL...

sometimes when i wake up, i feel rested... or tired... or nothing... or dread... like yesterday.

it's been a tough 10 days or so... i kinda lost count after the first few days. the thin man was preparing for a trial and then, he was in the midst of it. so, our days and nights were long, trying and chaotic.

it was also the paloma's first week back at school so there were changes to our routines again and then there was the rain.... i'm also due for a visit from "aunt flo" who is remarkably different and *ahem* pronounced, emotionally and physically, since the arrival of my two children....

i needed a break yesterday and so the thin man offered to drop me off downtown... when he asked me where i wanted to be dropped off, i couldn't think where.

i mean where could i go when all i wanted to do was lose myself in grief, anger and loss and then cleanse with a celebration of spirit, friendship and joyful love? what place would be quiet and sacred enough for me to think clearly and meditate deeply and loud enough so that i could scream until i was mute and breathless?

so, i punted and said, "drop me off at the art institute."

my best friend, andra, and i would spend our free time together one of two ways.... wandering aimlessly in evanston or wandering aimlessly downtown. evanston is too much of a hike, now that we've moved so far south ergo downtown.

as soon as i walked through the art institute's monstrously heavy door, i regretted it. i wasn't even sure why i was there. so much of the art has been moved or taken off display that it was almost insulting to her memory to be here at all. but, i didn't have any better ideas... so i kept going on my bitter unfocused way...

i entered the thorne rooms first - one of our favorite exhibits. we used to say that teeny tiny people lived in the rooms because the accessories in some of the rooms looked as if someone had literally walked away to use the bathroom, to get the mail, to pick up the baby, to have clandestine sex in the broom closet, etc...

i thought about her room in her old house and what it would be like to make a diorama of it... a book open on her bed, dollops of paint still wet on a pallette on the floor and an unfinished canvas propped up against the lower part of a wall. a green jean jacket hanging slack from a chair. as i turned the final corner of the horseshoe shaped exhibit, i thought i'd feel better, but the memories made her more distant and the detailed intricacy of the thorne rooms more ridiculous and fanciful.

i made my way back up the marble stairs. looking down at my aching feet, wondering, "should i stay or should i go?" i forgot about the soft worn slopes of the stone steps and how we couldn't imagine calculating how many feet had tread them to make them so.

eventually, i always find myself in front of the chagall windows, but they've been removed to protect them from the construction of the new modern wing. defeated, i veered right and up into the rice building hoping to find something... anything familiar. aside from finding the jeff wall exhibit (which i can only describe as dramatically cinematic transparency theatre), i happily found where - the o'keefes, american gothic, and the ivan albrights - most of the american stuff had been moved.

and then, i remembered that i hadn't seen the baccarat paperweights in a while, another one of our favorite things to see in the museum. i made my way down two levels and found them again easily... they're a bit dusty but still breathtaking and stunning to me... especially, my favorite paperweight - the large one with the blood red glass gecko frozen inside a bubbly sphere surrounded by flowers.

and then, it was clear why i came to the museum.

there's a native american proverb that goes something like "we will be known forever, by the tracks we leave." and she, andra, had left tracks on everything at the museum - every painting, sculpture, drawing, every thing was a mutual friend/acquaintance of ours... i needed to be around something or someone who knew her and remembered her. and andra had left her tracks on me. finally, my mood lifted.

after spending some more time (with andra) at the museum and its store, i left at noon. i went across the street to watch puppetbike (my new favorite thing to do in chicago and something i'm sure she would have LOVED). i crossed back over to au bon pain, got a sandwich, an orange scone and a tea - another of our old traditions. my heart and my tummy were full. :)

so, i walked to the macy's protest. it was so old school, so heartwarming, to see passionate chicagoans banding together for a really worthy cause - CHICAGO! when i got there, i got interviewed by a reporter (no, she didn't quote me in her story - even though she kept saying, "that's a GREAT quote!") and after answering her questions, i actually got all choked up and almost started to cry. i'm sure this reporter thought i was crazy for getting so emotional over a store (don't get me started).

but really... all i was thinking was, "i get it. sometimes change is good. like puppetbike. but othertimes, like Macy's... not so much. and MOST times, like no... today, sept. 10... not at all."


Irene said...

I had forgotten how much I loved the Art Institute. I used to work across the street when the corp office for Sara Lee Bakery was in the Santa Fe building. I could sit in the AI forever!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking me with you on the tour of the Art Institute. I've never been before. The blue light from the Chagrall windows must be intense in real life. Hope you feel a little bit less alone. *HUGS*

samokdaddy said...

hey...where have you been? Haven't posted for a while... Need some good banter. Come on Mama Z, it's been a while.


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