|Hot Wet American Summer, pt. 1
||[Jul. 8., 2019|03:57 pm]
My Fourth of July weekend started Wednesday evening with a viewing party at Marina City. Ostensibly, the object of our collective gaze was the City of Chicago fireworks display. From that point of view, it was a bust. The weather suddenly turned cool, transforming the humid air into fog. At one point, the Hancock Building a mere mile to the north nearly disappeared from view.
But I've seen enough fireworks in my lifetime. I came to view the apartment--and that surpassed my hopes. As I told anyone who'd listen, this is a building I've wondered about for literally forty years. Long before I'd ever visited Chicago, back when the name itself hardly even meant anything to me, the Childcraft children's encyclopaedia featured a two-page spread on the complex. It seemed impossibly grand and futuristic, like something out of The Jetsons.
Once I'd lived here a while, I heard that the towers were not all that. The flats were rumoured to be cramped. The building had structural problems (particularly involving those striking balconies). Certainly the shabby, tucked-away ground-floor lobby promised nothing impressive. It also proved difficult to navigate, as despite being a single condo, each tower has a separate security desk and the attendant at one has no listings for the other building.
A realtor might euphemistically call the apartments "cozy"--and they are, by the inflated standards of new construction; to me they seemed plenty spacious. The kitchen, for instance, was surprisingly easy to prepare food in (which I ended up doing, having brought a couple things for the grill). But it's the balconies which really shine. Given the unusual design, they're twice the depth you'd expect and my friends own two-and-a-half of them. One they don't even use!
It was such a good crowd, I really didn't want to leave. A friend of a friend was telling stories of his stoic Midwestern Methodist father, repressed and retiring almost to the point of caricature. (He would literally rather not eat than half to tell a waitress what food to bring him.) And I got an earful about the owner's historic Baltimore residence and the joys of a century-and-a-half of ad hoc retrofitting.
The next evening's gathering, despite a clear few to fireworks in three directions, could only suffer by comparison. The crowd was smaller, older, and on the whole less interesting. The balcony was so narrow it was difficult to slide past anyone. And the alcohol, although perfectly fine, had trouble standing up to homemade stock.
But it ended much the same: with four of us sitting around swapping stories like we could keep going all night. In truth, though, I was like a toddler fighting sleep, literally struggling to keep my eyes open and my head held high. Eventually--maybe an hour after it really made sense--I had to call a Lyft and head home.
As a result, Friday was something of a recovery day. I was trying to get some cleaning done so I wouldn't have too much to do the next day but it was steamy and sultry and I was too stubborn to turn on the AC so I ended up having to retreat to the inner sanctum for regular recuperative visits. I did eventually get everything done, even pushing myself to clean up areas (like a tragic corner of the porch) that I'd been neglecting for over a year.
Saturday I was ready to be social again, so I tapped a friend for brunch at Bongo Room. Afterwards I discovered the new location of Uncharted Books, a store I'd visited only once at their Logan Square location. As I told the owner after buying a volume of Iraqi short stories, the collection was surprisingly deep given its size. After that, it was Middle Eastern and Andersonville Liquors for necessities like ice, tonic, and Turkish delight.