Chi-town, the home of the Bears and for now, my (not so) little E. I was last in Chicago on a high school trip some time between puberty and adulthood, so all I remember of the city is how the Sears Tower sways in the wind. This is a normal occurrence and it is really not necessary to go dashing under the nearest table top performing one’s most humiliating ‘duck and cover’ shouting “earthquake”!!!
I also remember Maury Alchek’s really cute butt and a ton of fantastic monumental contemporary art sculptures throughout the city. I remembered a gi-normous Calder structure and a beautifully soft Chagall mural.
This visit, I was in town to explore the University of Chicago and E’s new life. As a Californian, from the new region of a very new country, I was really surprised by all the old, European style architecture. There is a reading room that looks like the dining hall at Hogwart’s and a chapel that is a gothic monument that would do any French city proud. The quad is intimate, surrounded by 19th century brick buildings and during our visit, golden-tinged autumn leaves from the ginko trees littered the manicured lawns. The girls rolled their eyes when I squealed in delight over the sighting of a squirrel, warning me that I’d been in France for much too long. I kept my enthusiasm at the sighting of an American yellow school bus to myself.
I hadn’t taken E to college when she first moved, so this trip was mostly about Target runs and furniture building. We met new friends, tested the cafeteria and spent hours in bookshops. Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and the campus museums will have to wait for the next visit. But we did make time for what may be the most beautiful library on earth. The Mansueto library sits on a corner, looking like a dew drop from the land of giants. You enter through the main library into a reading room with no walls, no ceiling. Just tables, with perfectly designed chairs and the sky above you. It is inspiration.
While visiting we stayed downtown, where we did have the opportunity to see a bit of the city. We drove by the Calder and Chagall art that are is impressive as I remember, but they have lost their power to astonish ever since the city built ‘The Bean’ which is the knickname of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. The bean gets its name from its kidney-like shape. 13 metres high, and 20 metres long, this mirrored structure enthralls and disorients, forcing the viewer to redefine her own reality. It gets even better as you walk under the sculpture and view yourself through the naval. It is Kapoor at his best and art how I love it the most; approachable, playful and an experience that enriches you.
Almost as wonderful as watching your daughter sprout wings and come into her own.