Thursday, August 30, 2018

Chicago days

I have the morning off, as Primrose is spending a half day at her new day care center. The weather outside is splendid, I have Chicago at my fingertips. So what do I do? I catch up on rest and leave the idea of exploring the city for another time.

It's not that I don't know the place. I lived here while attending graduate school. And, we did Chicago get-away weekends all the time as the kids were growing up. Then, of course, family members set up permanent shop in the Windy City and so I once again resumed the rather regular treks here.

Still, cities don't ever stay the same. If you last saw Warsaw twenty years ago, your memories would be snapshots of a past that is no more. On the surface, Chicago's changes may be less dramatic (in the way that Paris at some level seems very much as it was decades ago), but they are felt in every neighborhood. And still, in all these cities -- Warsaw, Paris, Chicago -- I am happiest staying within the small range of my favorite go-to neighborhoods. And so this time too, I move around Bucktown and Wicker Park and on my free morning, I go no further than that.

But I do take tiny steps beyond my usual orbit. For example, I do a late breakfast at Ipsento Coffee Shop on Western Avenue. Still Bucktown, but not in a set of blocks I usual navigate. The Coffee Shop is almost Madison-like in style: deliberately casual.


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(Ipsento prides itself in great coffee. A croissant egg sandwich goes well with it!)


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Walking back, I get another view of the building where I'm renting a set of rooms. Mine are the ones in the back, looking right out at the "L" train station!


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And now I'm in my comfortable walk again, making my way through the residential blocks to Primrose's home.


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The little girl had a successful time in her new school. At home, she is ready to eat!


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And nap. In my mind, her day was full of the excitement of the new. But she seems undaunted and unperturbed by it all. We easily slide into our old routines.


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But babies, like cities, change. And they do so with the speed of lightening. Yesterday, I was admiring Primrose's strong sit. Today, I'm seeing that she really does love to stand.


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Evening. As I stroll the blocks of this corner of the city, first with Primrose and later -- on my own, I see many many young families. Oftentimes there will be grandparents in the picture. Maybe summer invites the grandparents to come up and lend a hand. Or maybe it's just one of those Chicago things: extended families aren't that far away.

I smile at this universal dedication to the youngest members of our families. People -- they're complicated. Oftentimes we can't understand what makes them tick. Why even try. But kids -- they're all beautiful and they come to us unencumbered. They want food and unfettered love. We can do that! We give them hugs, we pay attention. We forgive their missteps. We devote every last ounce of energy to their well being. And those who came before us and those who will come after -- they will give of themselves as much, for those little guys who mean the world to us all.

It's a nice thought to have about our common humanity.

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