Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ice Skating at Millennium Park

The afternoon after our New Year's Eve breakfast with Eric, Sarah, Ian and Avery, we headed toward downtown Chicago. We were supposed to meet some friends to go ice skating at Millennium Park.

When I took this picture of Sam, at the Belmont stop, waiting to transfer trains, I just thought he looked grown-up. Now, I can see that he may also have been a bit tired.

It makes me happy to see these two so happy together.

Cam and I often talk about how we think Chicago would be a nice place to be an adolescent. Having the train to get around and so much to do and experience. But we are happy where we are now too. Who knows what the future will bring?

When we got to Millennium Park, the estimated wait time of the line to get skates was one hour. We considered scrapping the plan and calling everyone and just meeting at a restaurant or something but we didn't really have a good alternate plan. In the meantime, the line was moving. We were getting closer to skate.

Two of my friends arrived. Priscilla (in the middle) and I spent weekend mornings together in the call center of the National Runaway Switchboard, collaborating to offer crisis intervention to at-risk youth.

Larissa and I met at one of my transition jobs. We were both there because the job allowed us the flexibility to work when we wanted to and have the rest of our time free to pursue other interests. Larissa is a professional photographer, artist and musician. On this day, she gave me a necklace she had made.

In an, "It's a small world moment," my two friends realized they had met each other before. It turned out they have played music together through classes they have both taken at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

While I was catching up with my friends, Sam started fading fast. He sat down in the line and said he wasn't feeling well. He'd been excited about ice skating but we realized that if he was too tired to stand, he was likely too tired to skate.

A couple of our other friends were supposed to meet us at Millennium Park but because of a cell phone glitch, we didn't get their message saying they were running late. Since it was after the meeting time and we hadn't connected, we thought that something had come up and they probably weren't coming.

Cam offered to let me stay and catch up with my friends while he took Sam back to the hotel room to rest. I was sorry to see them go but happy to be able to stay.

I've only ice skated a few times and can just about skate around the rink without being afraid of falling. I don't skate well but I do OK. The first time I tried to skate, Sam was 4 or 5. I thought I'd be able to do it since I could roller blade but it didn't seem that similar. I fell a lot and wasn't really competent at all. I'd only had a few successful attempts in the 5 or 6 years since.

For me, this afternoon was more about being with friends at a marvelous location, reveling in the novelty of falling snow than the ice skating itself.

Priscilla had never tried ice skating. Larissa had her own skates and had skated as a child.

She and I encouraged Priscilla to give it a try. Larissa waited patiently for us to get our skates and get out on the ice.

I decided to stay with Priscilla for her first lap around the rink. Larissa would skate a lap, check in on us and then skate another lap.

Suddenly, there were Adam & Kate. It was such a pleasant surprise to see our friends had made it after all. I hope they know we were so much more than "willing" to see them.

Of course, the line for skates was still an hour long. We'd just gotten out on the ice and Adam and Kate couldn't join us w/o skates. We talked a bit over the rail of the ice rink.

I encouraged them to try to catch Cam and Sam but they'd already made it to the hotel. They talked about maybe meeting up to watch a bowl game with them at Eric and Sarah's before Sam and Cam took the California Zephyr back home.

While I was talking with Adam and Kate, Larissa, with her impressive backward skating moves, led Priscilla away from the railing.

Before long, it was time to go. I wanted to check in on Cam and Sam and everyone else had somewhere else to go too.

I'm so glad our friends came out to see us even though we were only able to be together for a little while. They are all such good people.

Rather than try to find change and get on a crowded bus, I decided to seize the day and do something I'd been wanting to do before I left, walk up Michigan Avenue.

A couple of pictures from the walk are interspersed above. This Flickr set has other pictures from the walk.

Here is the one I took of the Christmas tree at the base of the Hancock where I had an encounter I wrote about before.

Tonight's the night the world begins again.

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