It's Still Home

April 14, 2003  ::  11:38 PM

I went to Chicago for the weekend. Being away from the city for two weeks has been sad. Missing a geographic location as much as a loved one is a strange feeling, but longing is familar in any terms I guess. Simon and I went to dinner with friends on Friday night. I had too much red wine and not enough pasta while I sat next to Miles, the Perfect Panther. Later in a sleepy state I asked, “Who else needs to be milked?” in response to Simon’s question “Can you stay awake for an episode of The Shield?”

On Saturday we went to Pearl, an art supply store. I bought oodles of new trimming tools and brushes for wheel throwing. Simon bought nothing, but looked at paper. Then we went to Chinatown. We walked into the same grocery store as the time before and I bought some Ban Cha green tea and Hapi Snacks. Simon bought cracker nuts, literally tiny crackers with whole peanuts inside. Then we went to a Chinese pharmacy. It smelled like turtle food, fishy and stale. On one shelved wall there were many dried sea creatures used for traditional medicine: 3-gallon jars of Sea Horses and Sea Dragons, large barrels of silvery-blue fish, many varieties of larger fish some with sharp teeth, shark fins, dried cuttlefish, fish maw ( the air bladder of fish), and whole dried octopuses. The sight, smell, and idea of eating these items was simultaneously disgusting and facinating. I find that to be a common combination for me. Then we went to a snack shop/candy store. I tried a lot of the samples that were placed out. Fruits that I have never eaten before. We bought five sticky squares of Hawthorn berries, and five packets of peach flavored Hawthorn discs. The fruit was traditonally used for medicinal practices but has transcended to snackhood.

That silvery blue pile.

On Sunday we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory. Everytime I go I am reminded of my childhood dream of running a green house. The smell is heartbreaking. The air inside the conservatory is the most tangible air imaginable; I could feel it coating my skin. I love the Orchid House. Lady Slipper Orchids have a front pocket. Some orchids have wide petaled faces that remind me of baboons. The Fern Room makes me want to hike through the rain forests risking parasites and frog encounters. The Spring Flower Show is going on right now. It was very familiar and Midwestern: daffodils, hydrangea, hyacinth, tulips, columbine, bloodroot. I love the common names of plants and flowers. We walked over to the zoo and looked at monkeys and a sleepy seal. It was such an amazing weekend with so many beautiful things going on around me. I’m ready for another three days.

“This is Chinatown (bing-bong) doors closing.”

Meredith Adams-Smart
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