Sunday, June 26, 2011

To and From Chicago

Yesterday, I attended the Chicago Temple, with 3 friends from church. It was a day of blue sky and sunshine, and the drive over was uneventful. At the temple, we added a friend from Wisconsin to our group, and we ran into others we knew from the Kalamazoo area. I enjoyed the familiar routines of our worship session, and was glad to renew commitments in the company of friends.

In the temple, I always try to identify something - some idea - to take away and ponder; this time the focus seemed to be on finding joy in all aspects of life. I think I'm generally a pretty positive, happy  person, in whatever situation. I try to see the good around me. But maybe there is something more I need to consider.


Afterwards, we made our usual quick stops at the bookstore and at Trader Joe's, and we enjoyed a late lunch at Boston Market (their Southwest Santa Fe salad is so yummy). Then, armed with Fruit Jellies and Ginger Cats and Banana Chips, we headed home.

Alas, our return trip was not as uneventful as our morning trip had been! As we headed south on I-94, we saw a sign that referred to a 'traffic incident,' and that recommended finding an alternate route. We did that, but not nearly soon enough. We ended up traveling in the express lanes until East Ohio (and that wasn't too painful - at least we were moving, which was more than the folks in the regular lanes appeared to be doing). Then we headed east across town, to Lake Shore Drive, and followed that to Stoney Island Avenue and the Skyway.

That sounds easy enough, but Chicagoans are probably cringing and wondering "you crazy Michiganders, what were you thinking?!?" There was plenty of traffic, and our 'alternate route' probably didn't save us any time, but it was kind of fun to see downtown, and I enjoyed driving past Hyde Park, and remembering all the trips there to visit Dave & Joyce and their young family.

Jess was our expert map reader, but confessed willingly that she was not an expert map folder. That exchange reminded me of this sweet poem, about mapping life.
by Julie Cadwallader-Staub

Reaching back from the front seat while Mom drove,
my dad showed us the series of two lane roads we would travel
from our home up north in Minneapolis,
to Judge and Kiki's house
down south in Jefferson City.
He challenged us to add up the miles
between the pinhead markers on the map
and find the exact spot
where our red station wagon was right at that moment,
loaded with the eight of us, our dog, our food, our suitcases.

I loved the names of the towns we rolled through
Owatonna, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa
and I enjoyed the map games,
but folding that map
utterly mystified me.
I would try every which way before giving up and
handing a bulky square, creased down the middle, up to the front seat
where my father would spread it out in the air in front of him,
deftly pop in and out the folds
until the map collapsed into his hands
of its own accord.

Now forty years later,
he and I wait for my mom to get out of surgery,
and we pore over a map
to find a better way home,
and I trace for him the route I have chosen
from 494 East to 35W North to 11th street
and he studies this for a long time
before he moves his index finger along the thick green line
that bisects Minneapolis and says,
"Now, is this what you call north?"
"Exactly," I say.
Satisfied, he creases the map down the middle
and hands it to me.

I don't re-fold it.
Now 89 years old,
he's been married since he was 30,
practiced pediatrics until he was 80,
raised six daughters,
escaped from the Nazis in his youth
and survived a stroke in his old age.

That map, just as it is,
is accomplishment enough.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely poem, though the last lines were hard to read through the tears.