So, after the flurry of preparations, we headed to the Chicago area–first Sergey, to meet his friend Vadim, and then my parents and me. Our goal upon arriving in Skokie was to get the marriage license ASAP. We found the county clerk’s office, an expansive building housing courtrooms and various offices, and after returning our electronics (apparently prohibited) to the van and de-belting for the metal detector, we went inside. We found our room and joined the line of couples waiting for licenses. Finally, it was our turn. The lady behind the counter did not seem to find her job romantic at all as she embarked on a long list of questions apparently designed to determine our capacity for trivia questions, like “Where was your mother born?” and “What is your social security number?” I guess we passed the test, because we got the license, woohoo! License to wed!
Soon after that, my parents left, and Sergey and Vadim went to a baseball game to marvel at its slow complexity (they managed to withstand one hour of three), and I waited in the hotel for Dianne to arrive. Actually, I fell asleep long before she came and accidentally locked her out of the room, but don’t worry, we eventually had our reunion, and then the next day were joined first by Faye and Milly, and then by Addie and Safiyyah (Sadia came a bit later). And thus began our Mount Holyoke reunion. Seven sisters, three days, one Windy City.
So what makes it onto the travel itinerary for these womyn? Let me tell you: a museum honoring social welfare activism (Jane Addams Hull House), a giant ferris wheel–and then fireworks, the Art Institute, an outdoor opera concert, a glass balcony hanging over the city, and more. As for the tastebud tour of Chicagoan cuisine, our first day together, we indulged in deep dish pizza. I think I know why this style is mostly constrained to Chicago; Faye gave it the review, “I feel like there is a giant cheese ball sitting in my stomach.” Vadim, on the other hand, started with cheesecake and moved on to the pizza. Well, some friends enjoyed the cheese ball effect, but perhaps it is no coincidence that we lunched at a vegan café the next day.
I must say, it’s pretty nifty to have friends who delight in both the swing ride at Navy Pier and in analyzing historical museum displays, who make a surprising beeline for the paperweight collection at the Art Institute and appreciate the tale of Salome as told through the music of Strauss. I guess that’s why these ladies are my friends and have been for five years.
Speaking of the Art Institute, I was disappointed to leave its glowing galleries after only several hours. Before departing, Sergey and I visited the special exhibit on Magritte together. Surrealist paintings watched us from the black walls with disconnected body parts juxtaposed with strange objects and nonsensical labels. Sergey found it all quite disturbing and concluded of Magritte, “This guy was sick.” Then, I gave Sergey a desperate whirlwind tour, whisking him through all the Impressionist (“It’s nice but blurry”) and Renaissance galleries at a near jog. Then it was time for us to leave our friends to revel at the artistic treasures as we boarded the train back to Skokie. There was, apparently, a wedding to prepare for…