Monday, May 21, 2007

Ketchup 9: From Illinois to Ohio.


The feeling that Thursday morning was more than a little weird. Ever since the morning after Colin and Nora's wedding, and more strongly after leaving Hyde Park, I had a weird sensation of waiting for the other shoe to drop. In fact, about half of our time in Chicago, I was rushing about so fast that I kept expecting our time there to suddenly run out. It suddenly did!

That last day was busy enough, nevertheless. Sam and I woke and Jess was still asleep. I said goodbye to Sky, but I was going to see him in a week anyway, and Bill. Sam and I went down to a very pricey little diner near his house. Still, he didn't exaggerate when he told me how quick and spicy the eggs would be coughed up, plus coffee, rye toast, hot sauce, you name it. The place was sparkly shiny clean too, with a beautiful deep counter-bar that I could have stacked a dozen books if I wanted. As far as morning dive diners go, it wasn't just nice, it was beautiful.

Sam had to leave for his dentist appointment, so Jess and I got our things together and headed out on our own. We walked down to Grand Street and waited seemingly forever for the bus, although really it was only about twenty minutes. (Quick public transit is something I will miss about New York). The bus crawled along because it was vying with another bus on the same route, but we got downtown and found the Indian Restaurant where we were meeting Yotam and Smrthi. We had a really good dinner, although I didn't eat as much as I should have because I was still digesting the eggs from the morning. Already, it seems, there is a plan for a D&D campaign when we arrive back in Chicago, which will take a little bit of the sting out of losing our playing group here. After a very rich lunch, we walked with them to the subway, and then started off in search of Sam.

He'd loaded up our things in his car and was coasting about for us. He picked us up, and Jess immediately climbed in the back seat and fell asleep. Sam and I cruised through the city for most of the time left between then and our departure. We had close to three hours before we were needed at Midway, so we rolled around downtown for awhile, and started making our way south. We took Halsted through Greektown and on past the UIC campus. Halsted north of Pilsen looks totally different then I rememebered it, and frankly in a kind of a sad way. I don't believe that gentrification is always a unilateral action that is all homogenization without any benefit. That said, the sort of gentrification that has gone on down there seems to be a particularly soul-sucking kind. It is the kind that does, in some way, damage integral community, because the faceless buildings that have replaced the grand old Halsted relics are all specifically for students. Students are fine, great, don't get me wrong. But there is nobody on that drag that will be there for more than four years at a stretch, and that includes not only the students, but the coffee shops and the dry cleaners too. Plus the old neighborhood had been was of Chicago's more grandiose run-down districts... a real menagerie of blues musicians, Jewish jewellers, and South Siders picking through the debris for keepers.

We eventually wound up in Bridgeport, but didn't spend any time there. We continued on until we got to McKinley Park, and drove around some industrial areas I'd never had the chance to explore while I lived there. Then we drove past the Swap-O-Rama, through the old stockyards, and Back of the Yards. Then I convinced poor Sam that I needed to buy the CMS for my literature project, and he graciously drove us to the Borders in Hyde Park. I only found the $56 hardcover CMS, and ended up buying some crappy paperback MLA citation guide instead (which is why my citations, though "correct," look like an 11th grade research paper).

Oh, well.

We took 55th/Garfield out to Midway, and Sam dropped us off at the terminal, gave us hugs, and we were all on our way. Check in happened smoothly enough. I don't remember if the flight was delayed or not, but if it was, it was a brief inconvenience. We went up in the air and down again, and I anticipated the landing in Ohio where there aren't a couple dozen miles of a couple hundred thousand brick bungalows on every side.

There were trees and farmlands.

Ohio. Neither Chicago nor New York. But travel has become so casual, and I don't know that I like that. It isn't really travel if it doesn't feel like travel and adventure. Whatever, I was tired.

We got our luggage without any trouble and met dad right away. He'd brought some cookies for us, and while we rode back I listed to Jess tell him about our adventures. We got into Zanesville at ten or so, and took it relatively easy for the evening...



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