Leaving Montgomery, Alabama, I knew there was going to be some weather, but I had no idea there were torrential thunderstorms and tornadoes. I had this feeling I needed to get out, so I grabbed all my stuff and started throwing in the car. By then, it was pouring. I was drenched and the car was drenched with wet luggage. For about 4 or 5 hours it was extremely difficult driving. Sometimes I had to put on my flashers with the other cars so we could see each other.
What was supposed to be a 6 and a half hour drive became a 9 and a half hour drive with lots of accidents and it WAS NOT FUN. I was so happy to get to Kaitlin’s apartment. She and Samir put on a lovely dinner. They are passionate about their work to say the least. I got an inside look at their organizing to help workers in Louisville and at Walmart. I learned some things from Kaitlin as I always do.
Louisville is beautiful and a very cute city. I stayed downtown in an adorable Beds and Bikes airbnb. We went to a rare Picasso art show in town and the Muhammad Ali Museum. The Ali Center was incredible. It was an extension of what I had just seen in Montgomery. Of course, Muhammad was the pretty, heavy weight boxing champion that came home from Italy and was given a heroes welcome in Louisville. He was still not allowed to eat lunch in a restaurant.
I loved the story of how he refused to go to Vietnam. He gave up his title and his passport and was possibly going to jail. 4 years later the Supreme Court set him free.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
Next stop was Chicago. I rolled into town just in time to get to Kelly Anchor’s play “Deep Fried Refried” at the 31st year old Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, longest running fringe theater in Chicago. Kelly juxtaposed Tennessee Williams with her southern family trauma around addiction and physical abuse. Unplanned pregnancies, love, passion, dreams, indiscrepancies, were portrayed with humour and sadness. Kelly’s family were the actors in this astonishingly brave play. Her southern mother, Lynn, Mike, her husband from Chicago and her son, Max. The talent in that family is stunning.
I think something Kelly and I have in common; when we are going through something, we want to share and bring everyone along.
Kelly’s day job is an elementary school counselor for a very diverse school with all types of ethnicities. I had the privilege of attending her grief group where we built things out of play dough and talked to the kids. One young boy had just lost his mother, another little girl was a Syrian refuge and her father had been assassinated.
Kelly is the most humblest badass I’ve ever seen. Not to mention she knows every delicious restaurant to eat at in Chicago.
I’ve just realized that I’m 54 and driving across the country is actually really hard on your body. I stayed an extra couple of days to recoup and had the chance to go tour the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Oak Park, IL. Fascinating architect, not my style but he was brilliant. All his furniture he designed looked terribly uncomfortable. He was known for building a room within a room and making small spaces go into larger spaces (compression to expansion) among other things. He actually sounded like an arrogant asshole. Quite the eccentric influencer.
From there, the Art Institute of Chicago was a must see. When Zafer and Arlo were little we used to play the board game “Masterpiece” and they learned the classic art pieces. I took them to the Art Institute when they were quite young and they ran from room to room like they were finding Easter eggs with all the Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Seurat paintings.
A quick dinner at La Sardine’s with my cousin’s niece, Stella. A sophomore at the University of Chicago. What a joy to visit with this adorable young woman focusing on environmental science.
To solve the sore back issue I went to the Relax my Back store. A tutorial with Tim, the back man, and many dollars later, my car is SET for a road trip. He had me upside down, laying on mattresses with multiple pillows. I swear…they worked wonders. He explained posture, muscles, lactic acid, astronauts and gravity like no other.
Next stop is Omaha Nebraska. I’ve never been to Nebraska and why not? Who wouldn’t want to go to Omaha in February? Well, I get in late and it’s cold. I wake up and it’s negative 6 degrees. I seriously had to google to see if it was safe to go outside. This southern girl has never been in this kind of cold. The wind chill they said was more like -45. I put on all my clothes in my suitcase. I was a little freaked out that the car wouldn’t start, but good German engineering, and all was fine. I made it to a critically important massage at the most beautiful healing center in Old Market, a cobblestone part of downtown Omaha. The cutest place ever.
Tomorrow, I leave for Boulder, Colorado. A bittersweet place. A beautiful town that killed my son. I’m lucky to have all my sweet cousins there, Zafer’s roommate, Niki to process with, Kristi, and Arlo flying in. I think it will be really really hard and also very healing.