It’s been a very happy week here in Chicago. Ours started last Friday, when Mike and I took an el to Schaller’s Pump on the South Side to watch a playoff game. Schaller’s Pump has been at 37th and Halsted since 1876, and from Mike’s description it hasn’t changed much since then.
The bar is cash-only, the bartender was our age or older, and when she recommended the ribeye sandwich we didn’t bother looking at the menu. She served it with a cup of bean soup and a draft beer. I felt like I was a world – and a lifetime – away, a college girl on a date with Mike.
The next morning my Seeing Eye dog and I walked over to the Chicago Architecture Foundation for Must-Hear,a special 25th anniversary walking tour they put together for adults who are visually impaired or blind. Whitney and I headed directly from the tour to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre for their first-ever audio touch tour in honor of, you guessed it: the 25th anniversary of the ADA. The actors from the play Disgraced got on stage to describe their characters, their clothing and their hair styles to us before the play. Minutes later my friend Brad and I were blown away by their fantastic performances on stage. The week went on from there:
- Monday my Lincoln Park Village Memoir II class started a new eight-week session, and that night Mike, Whitney and I took an Amtrak train to Milwaukee, where we enjoyed cheese curds and Miller beer at our hotel bar.
- Tuesday Mike rented a zipcar in Milwaukee so we could visit our son Gus in Watertown, Wisconsin.
- Back home Wednesday the “Me, Myself and I” class I lead in the Chicago Cultural Center celebrated writer Wanda Bridgeforth’s 94th birthday, and her fellow 94-year-old writer Hanna Bratman arranged for a ride from the assisted living center she’s living in to be there for the party, too.
- By Thursday I’d flown to St. Paul, Minnesota to speak at Metropolitan State University (a disability studies class there uses my memoir Long Time, No See as a text book), and I enjoyed dinner that night with my great-niece Shelley Rae, a stylist known for her skills with coloring hair. Shelley regularly travels to NYC and L.A. to teach hair-coloring classes but had spent most of her Thursday afternoon at her salon in Minneapolis doing a client’s hair in a “rainbow sort of swirl thing.”
- This morning I woke up in my St. Paul hotel room and had the staff take care of Whitney while I swam laps – the hotel adjoins the oo la la St. Paul Athletic Club – before taking a cab to the Minneapolis airport for my flight home.
You know, one of my favorite reviews of my children’s book was one from Booklist editor Donna Seaman, who pointed out how Safe & Sound not only shows young readers how remarkable Seeing Eye Dogs are, “but also how a person without sight can live a full, creative, and pleasurable life.” Amen! And now, for a day of rest.