Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Week in Chicago

Sitting at the Museum Cafe at the Art Institute. 
I spent a week in Chicago while still readjusting to being back in the states. After coming back from Qatar I thought I’d be able to endure the inexcusable heat, but my delusional resilience only made for more agony spent under the sun. 
Millenium Park
I stayed with friends in Andersonville. Even though the setting was different from their old Portland home, my friends’ way of life seemed to have been frozen in a time capsule. Everything about them was as I remembered it, but having an old friend in town forced them to do things a little out of the ordinary. I got one of my friends to accompany me to an awesome bookstore called Quimby’s, which is loaded with small press books and self-published zines. I felt like I’d come to the right place when I saw the local cartoonist, Corinne Mucha, has published work exclusively for Quimby’s. A scenic bike ride along the North Shore and manicure/pedicures was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

We did our time-honored activities, such as pub trivia, listening to NPR in the morning and doting over my friend’s adorable dog.

The heat shortened everybody’s fuse and one night when the apartment was filled with awkward silence, I decided to go out by myself. I went to a jazz club Al Capone used to frequent. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d left Chicago without going to a jazz club. At the Green Mill I drank a couple glasses of red wine and talked to friendly people. 

Sue, the largest and most complete T Rex at the Field Museum
Patience was tested back in Andersonville, where things were getting uncomfortable. During one conversation, one of my old friends called me a prude and I had to let that sink in, as it was the first time I had ever been called that. Perhaps being in a hyper conservative country for the past year has upped my modesty. I had been so preoccupied with the idea of readjusting to American life, I hadn't thought of how my old friends might need some time to readjust to me. Their prognosis is that I've changed, and the changes aren’t in my favor. I’m not as funny as I used to be. I’m more serious and harder to relate to. I myself would have used the word grown, not changed. I am still the same in essence, but I’ll tell you how I have changed. 

Since I've been back home, I’m constantly capturing trees and flowers with my camera. (I didn't see many of those in Qatar.) I’m still feeling fortunate for being in a country where individualism reigns and hang-ups over sex cannot determine the taboos for everyone. For a while, I was still taken aback when I saw short shorts and revealing blouses. And I’m still adjusting, although I think I've finally settled in. For a couple weeks, when I heard a noise in the distance, I expected it to be followed by the call to prayer.
Buckingham Fountain

My week in Chicago, although way too hot, gave me reason to go back. I want to go back to the Art Institute and see everything. So far, that museum has the most impressive collection I've seen: a plethora of paintings by all the great masters and statues and artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and the Byzantine Empire. I would also like to explore more ethnically diverse neighborhoods. And of course I want to check out Quimby’s again and go to more jazz clubs.

No comments:

Post a Comment