Well, okay, as I mentioned over on Facebook, we're back from Chicago. We have settled into the routine a bit, going to the YMCA early this morning and watching Breaking Bad on Netflix last night (we are a season back from everyone else, but isolated enough not to have heard much about what happens next). It's going to be a different routine though, because we left Sean in Chicago and after being the heart and soul and center of our family for 18 years, he is now starting his own life. I mean, obviously, he's still our beautiful, wonderful boy and we love him, but we aren't arranging our schedule around him anymore, and that will take some getting used to. I'm sure I will miss some aspects of it (not getting up at 5:30 a.m., not driving 13 miles to the high school to sit in the car while he goes to school board meetings) but it will also be an opportunity to do more of the things that we like -- movies, I think I mentioned, music, running races, seeing friends (making friends, I hope, I'm a little out of practice). So we are feeling our way with this, but I think it will be okay and more than okay, given that Sean has such a very good opportunity to be happy and productive and to learn to be better at the things he loves best. You can't be sad in a room with him these days, because he is floating on about six inches of air.
So, let me tell you a little about our trip. We arrived on Thursday after spending the night in Fort Wayne with my parents. (Mom made one of those amazing Indiana-type meals, nothing fancy but everything really fresh and delicious -- steak, caprese salad, corn on the cob and peach pie. Did I mention I learned how to make pie crust from my mom? She tried to teach me how to sew, too, but I never could get the knack of that.) My mom and dad are both in their eighties, but still very mobile and active. They love Sean so much, though like people who don't see kids for a while, they love him at an earlier stage than he is currently (this will undoubtedly happen to me now). Sean, who has an uncanny grip on what will make people happy, went out and sat on the swing that my dad built for him maybe a decade ago, which held despite a perhaps quadrupling in weight. I got to go running in my park with Bill that afternoon...it's maybe the only part of Fort Wayne that I really love, and it was nice. Bill said he'd forgotten how pretty my old neighborhood was, and it is.
So Thursday, we drove to Chicago. Our hotel was right next door to Roosevelt University and on the lake, which was good, since we had to move all of Sean's stuff, including a bicycle, into his dorm the following day. We got on the subway and rode out to the Lincoln Park neighborhood where we had a really great, casual-ish Italian meal at Sono Wood-Fired...salad, pizza, ice cream and, for me and BIll, a three-glass flight of white wines each. I think with tip, it cost $100. Definitely not in NYC anymore. Then we went to see "Buena Vista" one of three new plays in the Steppenwolf New Works Series. This particular one was intense and physical in a very Sam Shepard-ish way, though not as well-put-together as, say, Buried Child. One very good actor playing the crazy manipulative mother, interestingly cluttered and claustrophobic set.
Friday, we moved Sean in to his dorm, met his roommate Lance and his family (very nice people from Florida), bought Sean a few last minute dorm things (bookcase, hangars, laundry soap) and then said goodbye to Sean. We met Bill's brother Brian and his wife Maggie (up from Indianapolis) for lunch, then went to a reception for new CCPA parents. This was possibly the most reassuring part of the trip. We got to meet some parents, all nice people, one guy who was four years behind me at Dartmouth (we did a jinx outburst of "I couldn't get into Dartmouth now" in perfect simultaneity at one point, and he was also drinking Goose Island out of a bottle...) Bill and I also got to talk briefly with the head of the drama program whose name is also Sean Kelley (with an "e"), and he knew exactly who our Sean was, what he was good at and seemed to have some definite plans for him. So that made me feel like Sean had landed in the right place and the rest is up to him.
We got to have dinner with Sean one more time, this time with Brian and Maggie, too, and we had had such a good time the night before that we ended up going to Sono Wood Fired again, and it was juat as good. (Though no play this time.)
Saturday, we went to the Art Institute and decided to join so that we could skip the line (if you go twice in a year, it's cheaper to join). So we got to see all the impressionist art and the modern wing, which is my favorite stuff, and Bill had never been, so it was all new to him. They also have a really nice member's lounge in the basement with a garden and free coffee and tea and wifi, so we went there and checked Facebook and email and stuff, and felt like kings and queens. We took the train out to Welles Park, which is in the Lincoln Square area. they had Shakespeare in the Park that night, "Comedy of Errors" which was, weirdly, Sean's first Shakespeare play. He was one of the Dromios in the younger cast at NEYT the summer he was 12. So I cried a little at the end, thinking about little Sean discovering how much he loved Shakespeare, but mostly laughed, because it's a funny play where everything goes wrong until it goes right. Which is sort of what happened with Sean's college search. WE found this amazing burger place afterwards called The Bad Apple, which has literally hundreds of different craft beers on the menu, and since, for once, we weren't driving home, we each had two.
Sunday, we went running again on the Lakefront Trail, where Bill has become fascinated with the open-water triathlon swimming lane between the Oak Street Beach and the Ohio Beach. (He is, literally, ready to buy a wet suit and move to Chicago.) Later we met Bill Meyer and his wife Jess for lunch, and then Bill told us how to get to the Jazz Records Mart in River North, where you could probably kill a week or so, but we only spent an hour or so. Bill picked us up later at the hotel and took us to the Hungry Brain for some improv jazz... in Bill's words, Frode Gjerstad (boisterous Scandinavian free jazz saxophonist), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/tenor guitar/electronics), and Michael Zerang (percussion). I do not probably know enough to write anything sensible about the music, but I enjoyed it a lot, especially the drummer, and we would never have found it on our own.
So, then on Monday, we left and drove 900-plus miles in two days and now we're home. I've had half a dozen reviews run in various places over the last few days, so I'll be posting some of that later.