After church and after lunch, this afternoon, these four ladies, we went to Starbucks. There was a lull in the moments between elevator dinging up, up, up from lunch, and clicking that elevator button again: down to street, down to train, down to the city. There was a lull and I’m not the only one whose eyes sank heavy; Sunday afternoon just feels right to be sleepy. But it was a small break, and soon, soon, we filled backpacks with computers, Upasses, books, and we rode that elevator down, right into that city lobby.
We took the train, four? Five stops? Into the circle, wrapping around the heart of downtown Chicago; the train said “Loop” on the side. We rode right into the Loop and we got off at Adams and Wabash, where the Art Institute of Chicago stands strong at the end of the street, and there’s a Starbucks right there facing.
The same Starbucks that The Jen and I found on Friday. Friday when we sat in the front window with our headphones in and typed, typed, typed those papers and watched the people of the city and the tourists stream back and forth on that Chicago street. We went back to the same Starbucks, and we brought Mar and Ellie Rose along, too.
We found a table in the middle; I sat on one side, three chairs in a row for those three on the other side, and we worked there in the Starbucks. I had a paper, the same paper that caused my back to stiffen tight from sitting, working, stressing on Saturday night. I had a paper to work on, but I was up late on Saturday and I made much progress, I’ve not so very much work to do now. So I listened to music and I worked on that paper, and when I couldn’t resist, I looked up, out the window, and gazed at Chicago happening there.
But we’re not there so long, there was an issue with the heater, or maybe the air conditioning, and they’ve got to check everything, verify it’s all just fine: they asked us all to leave.
So we bundled up notebooks, and slid computers into backpacks, grabbed drinks, and we left. Ellie Rose knew a place, the Chicago Cultural Center, so we walked up that wide, windy sidewalk, Jen and I in dresses that blew like feathers over cold feet in flip-flops; it really was warmer this morning, we tell the other two.
But the walk wasn’t far and we got there soon; it was warm and dim, and the wide marble staircase winds up, up, up, but we walked right under it to the big room with dark red carpet and all those work tables. Mar and Ellie are in front, because Ellie’s been here before, and with Mar, the two of them are conversing quiet in this place like a museum. Jen and I are behind, far, and we stop and look at art on the wall, and I found a water fountain; the first two’ve selected our table by the time we arrive.
It’s a long table, with plush benches that I slide right off of because my dress is slippery, and they sit on one side, Jen and I on the other side. And I put in just one headphone, because it’s quiet here and I want to drink in the still, even as I’ve turned the music up loud in the other ear. I listen and I write, working on that paper again.
But I’ve made real progress and my despair, that sick, sinking feeling I get so very much when it comes to these rather intense papers, that feeling is shrinking, and I feel light and hopeful, and it’s making me want to write more.
Jen on my left, Mar across, Ellie Rose next to Mar, I realize then that it’s these three who I’d write about. I can’t, don’t, because I’ve got that paper, and I wasted too much time fiddling with my music, but I wanted to write about them.
I’d write about Ellie Rose with those soft, pale fingers, and Spanish worksheet pages spread wide in front of her. I’d write about Mar, she’s reading C.S. Lewis, taking notes in a little journal, and she looks C.S. Lewis-type, too. She’s got a black dress and black tights, and her hair’s auburn straight. She looks gentle, professional. And I’d write about Jen, next to me. She curled her hair this morning, and that brown hair falls soft on her white cardigan shoulders. She has a green dress and shiny sandals: she’s wearing hope for spring.
I’d write about those girls until all the details I know, all the details that I think and see and breathe and live everyday were recorded, because there sitting in the Chicago Cultural Center, I want to take these three and write, write, write, until I’ve saved them perfect, and they’d never leave, because I have them there, in pages.