June 16, 2002
"Before the Rain, the World Is Green"

After eating lunch at Penang in Chinatown, I take the train back up north to meet Eric at the coffeehouse. It's early, though, and it's raining intermittently, so I buy an umbrella and start walking around among the ritzy houses on streets like Scott and Astor and Dearborn. I like the way the houses and buildings are all human-sized, just blocks from the tallest buildings of Michigan Avenue.

For a densely populated area, I barely see anyone outside. Between the raindrops, there are some nice moments.

I stop in Goody Park, a playground I've never seen before, and sit on one of the benches underneath the trees. There's just enough foliage to keep me from getting wet during the moments of intermittent rain. Mostly the other inhabitants are moms with their kids, mopping down the swing seats and see-saws.

Two women with an Asian baby come to the swings and plug the baby into the seat, although they seem more interested in talking to it (and each other) and taking pictures than actually swinging. As any kid knows, this is a waste of good swingset time. Shortly thereafter follows a red-haired mom in sweatpants with a curly-haired baby of indeterminate gender, a little older than the red-haired baby.

Red-haired mom makes a tremendous show of giving a big push and acting very excited about swinging. Curly-haired baby is delighted.

Meanwhile a man is walking around me, pushing a little boy with a helmet pedaling sort of a proto-tricycle. The man is wearing chinos and a sweater vest, as if he thinks he was an undergraduate in the 1950s, or as if this is how he has dressed throughout his entire life since college.

Back at the swings, the Asian baby is watching the curly-haired baby and looking deflated. The two women don't seem to notice this loss of momentum. I feel sort of sorry for the Asian baby. He thinks the other kid is having a better time than he is, and he is right.

The rain starts again, more definitively. It's time for me to go back to the Third Coast. Eventually he'll meet me there, and we'll read and drink coffee for a quiet hour, and then we'll take my parents to dinner.

Posted at June 16, 2002 10:33 AM