Last night, when I laid out the itinerary for Lilly’s Big Day Out, I said something funny. I said we would do our last scheduled activity, “if Lilly [wasn’t] too tired out.” The thing about seven-year-olds is that they are rarely tired out; the thing about thirty-six-year-olds is that we often are. Tired out by work, family, or the crushing weight of our own existence, whatever it is, it’s enough to lie back on the fainting couch for awhile and promise to write all about Lilly’s Big Day Out tomorrow.
That’s the last picture I took today: Lilly headed down into the subway for her first-ever ride on a city train. In a sparkly St. Patrick’s Day ballcap, of course.
I’ve shared stories about PaperGirl readers doing beautiful work in the world, like making me monkeys and sending me candy pumpkins. And just before Christmas, while I was working in Florida, I finally got to meet friends I’ve had for almost a decade but had never met. PaperGirl doesn’t just yeild daily writing practice and a place for me to sort things out, it yeilds special relationships.
Rita is quilter, a writer, and a longtime PG reader. Rita is also a grandmother. She is Lilly’s grandmother. Rita wrote to me a couple months ago — we’ve never met — that she wanted to surprise Lilly with a trip to Chicago for her seventh birthday. (How is it possible to have an age that is a single digit?) Rita emailed because she knew I’d have some great insider tips. Totally.
I was delighted to serve as a tour director to the best of my ability, but then something wonderful happened: I saw that I’d actually be home when the girls came to town. I asked Rita if I could personally escort them around for a few hours on Saturday. The answer was “Yeah!!” and so it is that tomorrow, I get to hang out with Rita and Miss Lilly Herself. The following plan has been Gramma Approved:
12pm — Meet the girls at their hotel on Michigan Ave.
12-12:15pm — Ride the #3 bus down Michigan Ave. This is a specifically planned activity because both Rita and Lilly are very excited about sampling Chicago public transit. I can make that happen.
12:30-2pm — Free tickets to the Art Institute! I’m excited to present Lilly with her very own ticket. I know a guy, so I have passes for all of us.
2-2:30pm — Bum around on the steps of the Art Institute, check out the El train on Wabash a block away, take lots of pictures, work up an appetite.
2:30-3:30 — High tea at nearby Russian Tea Time! You know the whole fancy tea party game little girls like to play? The white glove, cucumber sandwiches thing? It’s mimicking something called “high tea” (I’ll do a post on that later, it’s an interesting topic) and I’m taking Rita and Lilly to one of the best spots in the city for it. The last time I had high tea it was intense and emotional. I think “intense” and “emotional” won’t play into it tomorrow, probably. Just fun and maybe funny.
3:30-4pm — If Lilly’s not tuckered out, we’ll all walk the couple blocks from the Institute/Tea Time to my condo. Lilly can see how a city girl lives and I can show Rita some quilts. (Note to self: get pantyhose off the shower rod, make bed, wipe counter.) The view from the top of my building is fantastic, too: all Lake Michigan and skyline, baby.
Lilly doesn’t know she’s getting a surrogate auntie for her birthday. I’m so excited!