I skipped the ruby slippers and opted for some cushy red sneakers. How fitting, now that I realize it—this Dorothy wasn’t visiting the Emerald City to find a way back home, but to see how different it was from home. With its overcast skies, sporadic rains, and overall quiet, Seattle was a welcomed change of pace.
I’m encouraged by stories of reemergence because sometimes strength or purity can be born through burning. At the suggestion of J’s cousins, we took an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River and heard stories about the tall glass, steel, and concrete buildings all along the river—products after the fire. It was unfortunate that some of the city burned because someone supposedly knocked over a lantern, but I wonder what Chicagoland would have looked like if it never encountered a fire. Rose and Rick’s house would still be there, on the other side of the river, but would Chicago still have petitioned to host the World’s Fair in 1893? Would the city still have its distinct surrounding neighborhoods? Would it still have the same colorful arts & culture, with the alleyway art shows and intimate blues clubs? I’m not sure, especially since I’ve only experienced a small portion. There’s still way too much to see. I’ll eventually crave that springtime chill and come back; it will only be a matter of time before I start to feel too comfortable in this balmy, gold-lit, SoCal.
A rare peek at the sun earlier during the week.
Chicago welcomed us with overcast skies and a light drizzle, eventually building up to a torrential downpour by nightfall. We spent our week with J’s cousin Rose, and her husband, Rick, both of whom live on the second floor of a creaky and endearing split-level home in Bridgeport. They told us this house survived the Great Chicago Fire because the neighborhood was located on the other side of the river. The noticeable slant in the floor and the ancient squeaks from the weathered wood revealed the house’s maturity upon walking to the guest bedroom, something Rick humorously pointed out to us.
Rose & Rick’s illuminated home
I am a little ambivalent towards packing. While I pride myself in the ability to pack a week’s worth of outfits into a backpack, I am by no means a minimalist packer. It’s always the miscellaneous items, like the curling iron, book, or computer making my luggage-carrying experience teeter between tolerable and trip-ruining heaviness. I’ve learned there are some things you can do without, and that you can always post-process your photos at home. Little things like maintaining and sharing an items list with on Evernote maintain my sanity at the beginning and ending of a trip. Although I’m okay with trying to figure out how much mileage I can get from wearing the same shirt, There are a few things I can’t leave without, no matter how long or short the trip.
We flew up to the Bay Area last month during a weekend pocket of calm between rain storms, marking the transition from winter to spring. We did an AirBnB in Berkeley, at a tiny house in our host’s backyard. There were chickens and a friendly black kitten named Aster, and our host shared his record player and books with us. First thing in the morning I’d listen to Nina Simone or Joy Division on vinyl, then read Audre Lorde or t.s. eliot before falling asleep in the evenings.
When we weren’t traveling between Berkeley and SF, we walked through much of the Mission District and Haight & Ashbury, and wandered aimlessly around Berkley and Oakland with walks sometimes spanning 11 miles in a day. We ducked into shops when we got tired, or wandered into cafes or restaurants when we got thirsty or hungry. Sadly, I can’t even remember most of the places we walked into. Regardless of all the time we spent plotting our itinerary in any location, we hardly followed any of it. But I think I like it that way.
I was really curious as to what that guy was playing on his guitar as I was quietly inhaled my pastries. Yeah I’m a creep.
I have mixed feelings about LA. I appreciate that nearly everything wonderful is so accessible within such a compact space of a city; but because LA is so compact, getting from point A to point B won’t happen so easily with freeways congested at nearly all hours of the day.
So we decided on a whim to drive up anyway.
I’ve been to the Getty a few times, but I always discover something new whenever I look at the permanent collection. We went to the Getty Center sometime in the afternoon, when the sun was bright and the travertine surfaces were even more reflective. Sometimes I saw the texture, other times I saw the shape.
More life changes have occurred these past few months: a puppy, new jobs, the slow process of moving house—real life happens, and sometimes it moves a little too fast for me to even remember to document it. And just like that, summer’s over, along with the other three quarters of this year.
Two months ago, I made my very first domestic flight to the East Coast for a wedding in Virginia. J and I thought it was a good excuse to stay in Washington D.C. for the duration of our trip. We did the usual touristy things, and I finally crossed off one of my bucket list items by visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot we have’t seen, so we will be back someday, D.C. I still have my metro card.
Sometime late last year, we got married during a heatwave and drove up the central California coastline after it was all said and done. We drove through Big Sur up to Monterey, and then back down. I’m hoping this year will be filled with more adventures, whether they are the outside variety, or the quiet ones that happen in the imagination.