Once upon a twenty-something me, I had two favorite midday getaways downtown.
Part of the mystique of working downtown was seeing what everyone else downtown was doing and then wanting to do that thing myself so I could feel a little bit like this suburban girl had finally “arrived.” I’d seen and passed on the white-sneaker-and-pantyhose fashion combo many women sported as they speed walked from the Metra train to the office, but in the summer I noticed ladies on their lunch hours carrying long, elegant stems of gladiolas back to their offices. Under the watchful eyes of Picasso’s Untitled, the summertime Daley Plaza farmer’s market was something that I really looked forward to. It was the first place in America I was introduced to the concept of alternative growing and selling ways of food. (And by “alternative” I mean in reference to supermarkets. Of course in less industrialized nations like the Philippines, open-air market stalls full of hawkers is commonplace.) Judging by the locations noted by each farmer/vendor on their signs, it was nice to know that food (other than corn) could be grown domestically in places other than California and Florida.
In another professional life, I liked to watch kids play in the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park. This fountain is one that could really only have been born in the 21st century. It consists of two, 50-foot video towers on either end of a very shallow reflecting pool. The towers are made of glass bricks that each project, on the full faces of the towers, slowed-down videos of random, ordinary Chicagoans who were filmed for this project. After what feels like an eternity but is probably under two minutes, their eyelids close and lips purse, from which, a spout of water springs forth to the shrieking delight of the children below. One tower, two minutes, and then the other tower. I was completely content watching this thirty or so odd times during my lunch break.
Nowadays my sidegig is based in the River North gallery district, and a whole new part of the city to explore, block by block and one storefront at a time. I love taking peeks into the showrooms all around the office. From outside, the art gallery world, with their white walls and dramatic lighting, can appear to be so rarified, distant. I don’t get out much during lunch, since I’m saving money bringing my own meals in and the weather’s been less than inviting, but last Thursday I found this little guy looking back out at the street…
This post was inspired by The New York Times Magazine, when on Tuesday, they invited its readers to Instagram Your Local Escapes with the hashtag #NYTvoyages. The best of them are featured in the gallery, Close Encounters.
But, where’s your midday getaway?