My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)

We drove long hours to arrive in Chicago a day early.  Today a select few of us grouped together in the lobby of our Joliet hotel fora adventure ride into downtown Chicago.  Today turned outto be the ticker-tape parade celebrating the White Sox victory in the world series.  We were the only ones on the train to downtown not sporting a Sox jersey or ball cap.Upon arriving at LaSalle Station we walked within blocks of the ticker-tape parade.  Close enough to see it, but not IN it.  Its pretty much like the old World War II films.  An endless rain of confetti from high in the sky.  This is an amazing sight to behold.

We met up with a friend of Alicia’s who took us to a great Chicago Deep dish pizza joint called Pizano’s.  We split a large Mike’s special deep dish and a Caesar salad.

Alicia’s friend informed us that Wicked had just started playing at the Ford Center’s Oriental theatre.  It was all sold out in NY, and the tour had already come and gone in DFW so this was probably my only shot at seeing it.  We tried to get tickets and alas they were sold out.

We all walked over to this great big reflective jelly bean called the Cloud Gate.  Next door to that was the Pritzker Pavilion.  After taking lots of pictures we went to the Art Institute where I got to see the original Degas sculpture entitled “Little Dancer aged fourteen”  Mary gave her mom a porcelain replica of this statuette that she bought at Lincoln center. 

We were only there for about an hour and the place closed up.  Men were drumming on buckets outside.  We met up with Lydia’s brother and former boyfriend. They took us across the river to shop.

After shopping we walked to a seafood restaurant for dinner with live music.  We enjoyed the food in the corner booth.

We had been unable to secure tickets to Wicked, but we happened to be walking past the theatre at intermission.  We tried to “second act’ the production, but they’re on to that.  I bought Mary an embroidered t-shirt and we rode the train home.

It had been a cold night, butt we had a lot of fun and I can’t resist saying, “It’s my kind of town, Chicago is.”

And on drums… Derwood Lesh

Today turns out to be Der’s birthday.  Der is short for Derwood Lesh.  He’s the drummer in our band and long time friend to Matt (producer, director, bus driver…)To celebrate Der’s birthday we went to Patrick’s Restaurant & Lounge for dinner.  There was a poker tournament in progress and several of the guys bought in and played.  It wasn’t long at all before our fearless leader returned wearing fuzzy consolation dice around his neck.

The atmosphere was wonderful in this little pub and we all enjoyed each other’s company as we talked for hours.
One by one the boys who had bought into the game returned to us.  Every one of them – except Paul.
Paul as it turns out is quite a card player and he was in it till the very end.

As Paul battled it out with the rest of the locals.  The staff brought out a piece of cake for Der and sang Happy birthday in about 4 different keys at the same time.

Matt bought everyone a drink and we all rose a glass and toasted our friend Der.
Matt also took this opportunity to tell us that although he had yelled at everyone over the course of the past few days that he was glad to have us all along for the ride.  This was the closest thing to an apology we were ever likely to receive and whether he meant it that way or not was debatable, but in a way it offered a little bit of closure for us all and at least for me put things right again.
As the night went on the Men all sang a song from the show called Shenandoah to the delight of everyone.  Especially me since I knew from the start that they had started it about a third too high and poor Steven would be reaching notes only dolphins could hear.
It was a very manly evening there singing and drinking with everyone.  It helped to drowned out longings for home a little.
By the end of the night Paul had come away the winner of the Poker tournament.  He won a poker table top which will be fun on the bus, except now that we all know that Paul’s such a card shark; no one will want to play with him.  I mean – Would you feel comfortable playing poker with a man who brings his own poker table with him?
When I got back to my room Lauren, Lydia and aLicia all came in and we talked about everything under the sun.  It struck me that in my normal life I would never be able to spend this much time talking to anyone and it has been a delight to get to know them all.
At about 2pm we all decided to call it a night and everyone went home.  But I couldn’t sleep so I turned on to the TV and checked my email.  There was a beautiful email from Mary back home.
She wrote that although she was doing fine, she didn’t feel complete and I must say I concur.  It hasn’t been very long yet, but I have had an ever present feeling that I just wasn’t whole.
When two people get married it is the joining of two into one and I am beginning to feel a lot of guilt at having separated us this much for so long.
If I keep real busy and talk to people and party and play games I can mask that emptiness a little, but there is still a voice inside of me asking where Mary is.  The voice is not unlike my son’s in that it is incapable of understanding why there is so much distance between us and why I can’t come home RIGHT NOW.  I try in vain to reason with myself that it is a matter of practicality and that the money and new experiences are somehow worth some sacrifice.  There is no silencing that voice within.
I can only try to see this through and know that although the distance is hard; our love is strong enough to weather this and much much more if necessary.