Chicago – Part One

The schools were closed and the weather forecast was dim when I woke up Thursday morning. By the looks of the ice storm raging outside of my window, it was dubious whether our plane was going to fly to Chicago from Albany airport later that afternoon. So it was to my utter surprise, Several hours later, that my son Julian and I found ourselves at Chicago’s midway airport boarding my cousin Ellen’s car. The car was also inhabited by several overflowing bags of groceries and Ellen’s friend Inga whom we dropped off on the way to Ellen’s apartment building in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. A quiet evening featuring a delicious dinner consisting of the food, which Ellen had just bought was definitely in order.

I woke up on Friday morning to a beautiful orange and crimson sunrise over Lake Michigan. An hour and a half later, Julian and I found ourselves on the red line of Chicago’ El train headed towards Evanston. A few stops on the purple line and we were climbing down the steep metal staircase on to streets still covered by snow and ice. Julian, being excellent with maps, had no difficulty navigating us to Northwestern Univeristy’s admissions building.

A tour given by two very sprightly enthusiastic undergraduate students, Alex and Vicky, followed the information session. Julian and I found ourselves darting large pools of water (otherwise known as puddles) as we were navigated through an architecturally diverse campus. A music school information session given by a man dressed in various shades of purple (the school’s color) followed. At this point, Julian and I were ready for lunch. Fortunately, downtown Evanston boasted a variety of restaurants and we were able to find a quaint sushi place. We took the opportunity to visit the campus art gallery and a nearby park before heading back to Chicago.

A stop on the brown line brought us to Wellington Street where my friends Michelle and Marvin live with their son Aaron. Their apartment also houses their jewelry business. Upstairs, Michelle was busy making a Mexican meal while Arron practiced his violin. I was trying to snag a few minutes of rest before my concert, which was scheduled to begin at 7:30 PM. During this time, I found out that Marvin made the wedding rings for a former roommate of mine from Oberlin conservatory and her husband thirty years ago and that a friend of Julian’s from the Youth Sahavas in South Carolina was staying with Marvin and Michelle.

People started arriving while we were still eating dinner a quarter of an hour before 7 PM. I introduced myself to the Indian family- a young man and his wife who recently moved to the city from Chicago. His father was also visiting America from India for the first time. The funny thing is that we recognized one another from when I performed in India twenty years ago. I was beginning to feel as though I was living in a very small world! This small world feeling continued after I performed my concert on piano and flute (with Michelle gracing us with two of her beautiful songs also) when Marvin’s daughter, Nora arrived. I had been Nora’s counselor at the very first Youth Sahavas twenty-three years ago and had not seen her since. After a delectable array of desserts and an interesting ride through Chicago, Julian and I were definitely ready for a good night’s sleep!