Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The windy city is mighty pretty...

Our departure from Colombus and arrival in the fabulousness that is Chicago was dominated by a string of Larry Davidesque toilet episodes. Suffice it to say that in two days Cory and I have had several embarrassing toilet moments. The first was when my usually wiser other half took himself to the lav just as hotel staff were knocking at the door (they were delivering a fold out table for us to use that evening when friends were coming back to ours after the show). Table rolls in, cue son opening the toilet door nice and wide. Cue polite salutations from staff to red faced husband. Actually I think I felt the most embarassed of the two on behalf of them. Not 5 minutes later, when mama was taking her turn did the staff reappear with chairs. Replay scene one. Very almost, but with a swift Indiana Jones last minute save sort of thing. A mere 36 hours or so later are we settling into our Chicago home (16th floor, 2 bed with a view that makes you feel like you are hovering between skyscrapers) when Uncle Paul comes to call. I let him in leaving son finishing an epic journey in one bathroom whilst husband finishes off in the other. Both doors are wide open. Luckily the short flight here didn't fuzz my brain up too much and this time I manage to shut Cory's door. Actually whilst I am in the drains, I'd like to take a moment ot ponder the barn doors that are american toilets. Why is it necessary to see everybody's shoes while they pee? Why is it necessary to be in a loo wrangling with children who think escaping might be too difficult to resist. It takes me back to our trip over last winter. Big loo. Closed (to the floor!!!) door, EASILY opened. One of those handle unlocks the lock sort of thing. Two year old. Desperate to pee mum. Curious two year old moves near door. White panic. Door is opened. Choice made: make a lunge for door. Nearly decapitate myself, jeans round ankles, manage to stop said two year old. Make small lake on floor. Again, thin walls. Either way this bathroom thing is going to follow me around this place I just know it. If they can't see you they will hear you. What happened to privacy? And this is coming from a shoe lover! On the tack of privacy: note to self, high rise apartment does not mean invisible apartment or, people on other side of the street same level can't see into apartment. I learnt this the hard way after I pulled up my jeans in the loo with the door open. Lights on high. Brain most sadly on low. Agh, what's another loo episode between friends? Chicago has injected a buzz into the household. Sammy shouted CHICAAAAGO down the street with some reference to intoning so that it may have been construed as a song, all the way home from the theatre. One Chicagoan shouted back "I love that! I want to have one just like that!" I assume he meant Sammy and not my coat or the stroller. We invested on some wheels for the boy because his dad is starting to grow a real hump (shoulders were the preferred travel method for a few days now). We had been offered comps for Jersey Boys, and there was quite a number from the cast of Young Frankenstein there. Everyone was in good spirits, a few bars of Frankie Valli had me swaying in my seat much to the dismay of my fellow audiencee behind. Sammy delighted in hearing a number of the cities we have visited being mentioned by the actors on stage. He turned to me in delight wriggling in his seat making silent happy noises. Actually it seems we haven't stopped since we hit Chicagoan soil. Uncle Paul, from Cory's side of the family, (will explain the complex family tree at length another time) gave us a warm welcome, arriving ladened with foody gifts and whisking us off to lunch and then to the suburbs to do a big grocery shop and have dinner with the rest of the family. Sammy met his great grandma Ellie for the first time. The two got on very well. She has plenty of time to listen to Sammy's high energy lectures and he delights in the attention. A 90 year age gap between the two is but a number. After taking Sam to a pizza making playgroup we took a moment to a get the beginnings of a sense of the lay of the land whilst we kept warm clambering around a playground that backed on to the deep tuequiose waters of Lake Michigan. I find it rather intoxicating to be living in the heart of downtown Chicago, with the elevated subway rumbling a few blocks away in easy view of our window (happy 3 year old) and just around the block the expanse of beautiful blueness that is this vast lake. One side bustling metropolis, other side watery calm. What a great combination. Just in my first few hours here, it feels to me like the soul of the city is like New York's older, more chilled out brother. Deeply proud but without quite the same push and shove of the Big Apple. The few people I have had a chance to talk to seem, on first glance, to have a little more time, a little less push past you. To me there seems to be a great sense of creativity about the place (Institue of Art around the corner). I look forward to trawling the food and drink spots over the next few weeks and generally pretending I live here, rather than sniffing the air for a week and then moving on. Walking down State Street (Sammy Davis Junior ringing in our ears, Chicago, Chicago, its a hellova town) we spied mini ballerinas pirouetting on the nth floor of a glass fronted building. The Joffrey Ballet. Renowned ballet school and company, right in the middle of what we might think of as Piccadilly circus or Oxford Street. We watched for a while and then popped up to see whether they might let the tykey strut his stuff whilst we are here. Saturday morning will see us trek up there for a trial. I had to stop Sammy following the boys and girls inside. He finally settled on being the bell boy for everyone using the lift, asking their direction of travel and so on. No tips I noticed. Halloween has come and gone eh. Belly still full from our lunch in Italian Village we then headed back dodging commuters to our flat for a rest before Cory leaves for work. What an experience that place was. Three restaurants in one. The maitre d' without some heavy this-is-not-really-for-children subtext told us Gourmet was on ground, Cantina on lower and Village on upper. We have started at the top and will work our way down over the weeks methinks. We were greeted after the short trek upwards by a warren of little inglenooks and boothes huddled under fairylights and surrounded by a whole scenery storeroom's worth of choice painted backdrops and props. We were ushered into a dimly lit little hut labelled Stalla (stable, roof and everything) and took a few moments to acclimatise to the pink light. Sam told us it reminded him of a mouse's parlour (thank you Ms Potter) and his Dad and I shared a chianti. Pasta and seafoody things were passed around and boyo charmed the Romanian waitress. After he had explained many of his daily points of concentration the two exchanged and unhurried embrace. Can't imagine that happening at home. As we bundled out for the Jersey Boys matinee I caught sight of the other end of the upstairs area. Another theatrical representation of Italian terrace at twilight with accompanying gargantuan statues, pink and green lights and a sweeping curved bar to match. I make a mental note to find out how much or how little it has changed since it opened in 1927. Will come back for cocktails anon perchance. Squinting in the bright wintry sun outside compared to the cave we have been nestled in for an hour, we hustle to the show, giving thanks for another wonderful day in the windy city. Time to pause blogging for a mo to savour the yankees clinching their 27th world series championship. Husband is a-quiver with happiness. I almost feel moved hearing Posada's (a yankee team player for 15 years) voice break talking about the road to the team's success. It is unlikely I will ever become a bonafide fan. Wearing the cap is one thing. Screaming at the TV is quite another. Still, I am happy to have witnessed this jumpy huggy screamy wild crowd moment. A victorious close to a victorious day.

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