|St. Regis Tower viewed from Maggie Daley Park's Cancer Survivors' Garden|
Left to my own devices, I'd rather be working. And between the column and the book and the blog, God knows there's plenty of work to do. So when my wife suggested we chuck our obligations Wednesday and go downtown for a "vacation day," to ensure we wouldn't make noise and bother our oldest while he's downstairs taking the New York State Bar Exam, I went along, batting away qualms.
Such as the moment, early in the morning, when I was at my desk, pulling reference art for the artist illustrating my book to base drawings upon. "Why am I going anywhere when I need to get this done?" I thought, grimly. I shook that off.
We boarded the 7:56 Metra downtown. "Smiling faces under those masks!" the conductor urged. "Let's have those masks on please." People complied. Arriving downtown, we walked across the Loop. Normally we'd have gone to the Art Institute—it's been a year and a half since we've been inside. But it's closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, due to COVID crisis scheduling, so we picked up tickets for the 10 a.m. Chicago Architecture Center river tour on the Emerald Lady. I'll admit that my enjoyment of the tour was tempered by already knowing just about everything the docent said, and more. I had to retrain myself to keep from shouting out what I thought were salient details she sidestepped. But Edie loved it, and it was fun to spend 90 minutes on the river on a gorgeous warm summer day, first up the north branch to the Freedom Center, then down to River City, and back along the main branch, out to the lock. She didn't make a single factual error, and that might have riled me too, because I was primed and waiting for the joy of correcting others.
We swung over to the Chicago Yacht Club and walked down the lakefront, passing Segway tours and women in hijabs learning to kayak. We ended up relaxing in the lobby of the newly open Palmer House, enjoying a cold beverage and sharing a brownie, which the Palmer House claims to have invented and may very well have. There definitely were more people downtown, and it's good to be among them and see the city opening up, if only briefly before the next crisis arrives.