Yesterday, my husband and I rode the Metra train down to Chicago to celebrate with my niece and her family the accomplishment of receiving her Masters in Music. I had planned the trip the night before, thinking I had communicated to my husband that we would take the 12:10 out of Waukegan. Early on, as I was out on the porch savoring my morning coffee, my son asked why his father was getting ready so early. That should have raised some alarm for me since that is atypical of his behavior. He hadn't really heard me and was readying for the 10:10 train, so I had 20 minutes to make myself presentable. We then followed very bad directions to the station and found it by chance at 10:09, requiring a mad dash from the car, across the tracks, to jump on the train. I don't really like to cut things that close. We relaxed on the train and noted how much more use the Chicago suburbs get out of their train stations...farmers markets, garden shops in the old station buildings. They make it a center of town instead of a blight on the landscape one wants to hide away from sight.
When we got off at Ogilvie Station we strolled through the French Market but decided to eat on the way instead. This was a wise decision, for we found a patio restaurant and ate lunch outdoors with a beautiful summer breeze wafting around us. I never could quite take in all the skyscrapers that surrounded us as we ate: it always seems very surreal.
After lunch we continued down the road towards Orchestra Hall. Most of the people were also tourists which makes for a feeling of camaraderie: none of us know if we're headed in the right direction for certain. We arrived at Orchestra Hall an hour early and wandered in, following signs that lead us to a poster display by all the graduates. We watched people for that hour, families and friends coming together in all their many different ways to support their graduate. Our family never arrived, so we headed back to the hall and found them. I had never been to Orchestra Hall before and enjoyed looking at the beautiful domed ceiling and all the ornate touches adorned the building.
The ceremony began with a choir, followed by a symphony, then a woodwind and brass orchestra and then everyone together. Following an intermission, long speeches were given about the importance of music and music teachers in the lives of children. I somewhat agree, but most of my music instructors had the opposite effect on me! My niece gave the most concise and intelligent speech as the secretary/treasurer of the class. It was a proud moment for all of us who love her.
Afterwards we stood around in front of Orchestra Hall as the graduates were congratulated. We had a beautiful view of the Art Institute of Chicago across the street and the green park that bumps up along the side of the museum. Our view was obscured every few minutes by double decker tour buses coming to gawk at Orchestra Hall from their roofless perch. All I could think of is how hot it must be on that upper deck as you were driven around the city.
We then continued on to our biggest adventure of the day: riding the El.