12:11PM. After waking up late and having some breakfast in the Alexanders’ kitchen - a family that Rachel grew up with - we’re on the Argyle train platform waiting to go to the Chicago Art Institute.
12:16PM. You can use your cell phones on the subway here! Upside is that you can always fill the boredom of a long ride. Downside is listening to people talk on the phone...loudly.
12:58PM. The Art Institute is amazing. Masterpieces everywhere you look. Makes for a fun time.
Rachel teaches me about the concept of ‘time’ in Cezanne’s “Basket of Apples.” We’re having a lovely time. It’s 1:11PM.
2:15PM. Meet Emily Alexander for lunch at Thai Spoon on Harrison and South Wabash. Order pints of Singha beer, very refreshing.
3:51PM. We remark that the good weather is following us. NYC was hit by blizzards shortly before we left. Cleveland was gorgeous, despite the lake still being frozen. And according to all accounts Chicago is experiencing its 1st warm sunny day of the year.
On our walk from Grant Park to Milennium Park, it strikes us that we’re seeing our 2nd Great Lake in as many days (Erie, Michigan). Sweet.
4:17PM. Joined by Eve Alexander in the park at a very large reflective sculpture called “Cloud Gate.” Hilarity ensues. Seeing yourself dance around in the Giant Bean (it’s preferred name) causes excitement. Pictures are taken. Dancing is done.
The park itself is very very pretty and has a lot of cool stuff peppered throughout. Mayor Daley wanted to promote beautification of the city with modern art. Well done, sir!
We’ve come to the conclusion that Chi-town is much like a jigsaw puzzle, with seemingly random pieces fitting together quite nicely. Just makes you think “classic.”.
While waiting in a parking garage for Emily’s car at 5:06, Rachel rejects my advances to make out. I respond by giving her the silent treatment.
5:25PM. In the car on the way home, I give Rachel a wet willy, then ask her with a smile “ you ok?”
“Oh, so you’re talking to me now? Rachel asks.
“No.” Though we both know silent time is over.
7:30PM. On our way to dinner, we stop by Rachel’s childhood home. As soon as we turn down the street, she and the Alexander sisters - Eve and Emily - are talking excitedly about old times at the place. Big house, porch. “We used to ride mattresses down the front stairs,” Rachel blurts out as we all laugh. You can imagine that they had lots of fun here as kids.
“Sad,” Rachel finally says before we pull away.
Polish Buffet Dinner!!! We arrive at “the Red Apple” on Milwaukee Ave around 7:54PM, a place we highly recommend. The great thing about buffets, of course, is that you don’t have to wait for service and you can indulge in just about any food you want. The bad being that dinner is over in about 9 minutes and you’re sitting in full recline with pants undone.
After a quick nap, we head out to the Green Mill for drinks and jazz at 10PM. All of its original decor still intact, it’s the oldest jazz bar in the country and was a speakeasy hangout for Al Capone himself. We have a reserved table, courtesy of Eve’s bartender
boyfriend, Mark - it’s nice to have friends in high places.
Good news! We get a call from Rachel’s cousin, Nick, and he’s taken the rest of the day off so we can drive out and meet his family. They live in Woodstock - an hour or so outside of Chicago. Where “Groundhog Day” was filmed! Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania is apparently Woodstock Illinois. A geographical phenomenon.
One of the coolest and nicest families of all time we think. We go to dinner at a charming french restaurant, Le Petite Creperie. The 8-year-old twins, Jess and Justin, create friends out of their dad’s discarded shells - aptly
named Russell the Mussel and Sammy the Clammy. The older girls - Sarah and Noelle - try in vain to avoid our new seashell companions. Fun family times!
We’re dropped off at 8:30PM, joined by the Alexanders, their mom Monica and her husband, Sacco. One bottle of wine turns into two...
Chicago was a terrific time, particularly since Rachel’s been dying to see her hometown again. A great place for family and friends.