Posted tagged ‘Chicago’

Big Cities

January 2, 2009

We were watching a dvd until about 10 minutes to midnight last night.  We switched off the film and turned to the ABC Rockin’ Eve program to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  It was very cool.  It always is.  To see the people filling the streets.  The confetti.  The noise.  The snow….  And it was a little more thrilling for me when I realized that I had been there too.  Times Square.    It was just one of my ‘big city’ adventures this year.

The day after Thanksgiving, I dragged my semi-reluctant family to the Fox Theater in Detroit to see a professional production of ‘White Christmas.’  It was cute.  Splashy.  Colorful.  Expensive.  (And maybe…not nearly as good as the high school production of ‘Seussical the Musical’ we had seen the weekend before for about 1/4 the cost.)  As we were driving through the nearly deserted streets after the show on our way back home,  I was thinking about the fact that in the last eleven months I have spent a significant amount of time in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and New York.  Big cities.  That’s pretty amazing since I live in a fairly rural community in south east Michigan.  Detroit is about a 50 minute drive for us.  I used to go there a couple of times a year with a friend to shop at the Eastern Market, lunch in Greek Town and then cross the bridge to purchase baked goods at Columbo’s in Windsor’s Little Italy neighborhood.  Good times.  Great memories.

My family and I stayed in Detroit last spring while I attended the Michigan Reading Association’s convention at Cobo Hall.  Sadly, there was very little for my family to do in the city while I was attending presentations and classes.  They rode the People Mover a couple of times and visited a particular bakery in Greektown.  There were no shops to visit.  No bookstores or hobby shops or museums close by to visit.  Everything was shut tight for the weekend.  My children were actually fearful to get off the ‘beaten track’ when we went looking for a place to have dinner.  Sad.

They all love Chicago.  We have been there several times and never at any other time than February.  Go figure.  They like walking the streets looking for favorite shops…and some new ones.  They like riding in cabs.  They like the museums.  They have never been afraid there.  Never been fearful about getting off the ‘beaten track’  there.   Our plan is to try the city in the summer some time soon.  Heh.

Boston was a totally new trip for all of us.  A HUGE adventure.  We discovered that we like subway trains in Boston.  That we like the Red Sox.  That we like being on the water.  That we have new and greater admiration for JFK.  We would all go back to Boston in a heart beat.  Boston rocks.

I had been trying to get to New York City since I was eight years old.  My three day ‘adventure’ to see my favorite actress in a play was the highlight of my entire year….probably.  And it wasn’t just  catching up with an internet friend I had known but never met, the play and meeting Maura Tierney afterwards.  I like the ‘music’ of New York….the pulse….the people….the action.  Naw…scratch ‘like’ and insert ‘love.’   The Princess and I are planning a trip there together for her birthday in August.  One thing is for certain, her trip will be an entirely different one that the one I took in September.  We will see the Statue of Liberty this time – because she wants to.  But we will sneak in a visit to the West Village bookstores, Morandi and the Magnolia Bakery for hummingbird cupcakes – because I want to.

When I think about our big city adventures, I am sad for the city of Detroit.  So very sad.   It appears that the music there has dwindled.

Sad/Happy Truths

March 1, 2008

Dang. We were right in the middle of crossing a busy street in Chicago when she said it. Just came right out and asked. “So…are you my STEP-mom or what?” The Mom walking with us stopped for a split second and did a double take back at us. We scurried across to the sidewalk and I assured her, matter of factly, that I was her MOM….that she also has a birth mom but we don’t know anything about her. That I was Kylee and Linnea’s step-mom, because I was married to their birth dad. She shrugged and nodded. End of conversation.

Until we were on the bus to a museum the next day. She was standing and holding the pole for support – just because she wanted to stand – when she asked me if I knew anything about them. I knew who she was talking about. I knew she was mulling her history over in her head. But I made her ask.


“My mom and dad? My BIRTH parents?”

I told her that I knew nothing at all….except that they were very smart. She thought that over for a moment and then asked me how I knew. I told her because of where they left her.

“At a BUS STOP?”

She was horrified. Almost angry in fact. And then I explained that they left her at a busy place where they knew someone would find her quickly. They could have left her in the woods where a wild animal could have gotten to her….or in an abandoned house without food and water. They were smart enough to leave their sweet little toddler in a safe enough place. I could see her rolling this concept over in her head – the very same thing she had been told numerous times before – and she nodded thoughtfully. End of conversation.

Until we were sharing a fruit cup for lunch in the basement of the museum.

“Do you know what they look like?”

I shook my head and she was a little saddened. There was nothing to share with her. Just a police report. End of conversation.

Until were were on the ‘L’ a little later on our way to meet our Girl Scout comrades for dinner. I had been waiting to ride the L. Any ER freak can tell you that the show is ALL about what happens on the L. I was all about absorbing the sounds and sights of the L.

“Can we go back to Russia to see them….maybe?”

This time I shook my head. I explained that we could go back to Russia someday. I had planned to do that with her. We could see the baby home where she was taken and the orphanage where she was living when we met her for the first time. But we probably would not be able to see her parents. She thought about this a moment and then nodded.

“I wish I had a picture of them.” Screw the L. My heart was breaking for my beautifully curious and sensitive daughter.

I wondered where all of this was coming from….at this time. Off guard. But then, I began to realize that we were in the middle of a strange busy city with 17 of her Girl Scout friends and 14 of their Moms. Moms and daughters that looked like each other, walked and shopped like each other, laughed and talked like each other. We shared a room with a mom and daughter that were almost mirror images of one another. And then there was us. As different from one another as night and day. At least when her dad and brother were with us we were joined by the common bond of being female. As I watched her in the midst of her friends, dancing to a 50’s tune with our wild and crazy waiters, I pondered her dilemma. Feeling a part of things and yet different from them. It was like a bubblegum bubble in my throat for the rest of the night. Getting bigger and bigger. It didn’t get better till much later…when we were snuggled together in the bed we shared in the hotel. I wrapped my arm around her and she laced her fingers in mine.

“I love you, Mom.”

Pop…goes the bubblegum. End of conversation.