Chicago Part 4: Quality Time
This post is almost a month overdue, but beyond my visit to the Morton Arboretum and the time Dan and I spent at Swing City Chicago, we also took in three different plays (Overweight: Unimportant, Misshapen; A Touch of Poet; The Great Fire), spent some time with Dan’s grad school buddy Shawn and his girlfriend Linn (both really wonderful people), and generally just hung out with each other navigating Chicago together.
The plays were all unique and interesting. Overweight was a European existential play, and while I truly enjoy existential adventures, I definitely felt like some aspects to Overweight were a bit beyond my understanding (I’m definitely rusty on Germany history, and even rustier on German existential theory…).
A Touch of Poet examined some of the issues of class, saving face, and increasing one’s status in society. This was achieved through the familiar plot line of an alcoholic-abusive father figure with a military past trying to assess his station in life and simultaneously the drama created by a daughter who wants to marry out of her economic strata. The story was set around the turn-of-the-century (well, by that I mean late 1800s) in the U.S., and the family were Irish immigrants though the father had fought for the British Army, so there were a few unique elements. The story was poignant – as the father becomes more self-aware and the daughter more understanding of her father’s dark traits.
The Great Fire was probably my favorite of the productions we saw. It was a retelling of the Great Chicago fire during the 1870s, and was a well-produced cross between a musical and a play. There were stories from Chicago residents, an overview of the event from the perspective of the city government and fire department, and the fire itself, was even made into a character. Special effects helped create the environmental elements – the literal “feel” and “sight” of a fire of that magnitude- and the cast was excellent.
Each of these plays touched on different elements of performing art and theatricality, and I appreciated each of them for their originality and message.
We also had the good fortune of staying with Shawn, and spending time with him and Linn. They took us to a delicious Korean restaurant one night, and Shawn spent time with us at his apartment and ate a couple of smaller meals with us. Both of them were incredibly kind and pleasant people, and shared some of their current activities/interests with us — Shawn’s optics research and career goals, Linn’s work in a NICU, their upcoming trip to NYC over Thanksgiving, and just their general ideas and dreams. A foreign city can feel so much warmer when you’re able to spend time with good people there.
However what I enjoyed the most was all of the time Dan and I spent together – just us.
Whether it was the plane rides napping against each others shoulders, late night rides on the Metro/L holding hands, when we looked around an all-Lacrosse store, when we sat on the stoop of an apartment building to share a few songs on his MP3 player, or were walking around downtown in the rain trying to find a theatre aggravated between the discrepancies on my printed directions and the GPS on my smartphone.
Life so frequently takes us both in different directions — he’s got a new design project, I’ve got a bunch of reports to write or consumer surveys to program, he has his friends to catch up with and I have mine, and we have our dance classes, etc.
As so many have commented before, and will comment going forward, quality time together is often limited. Or at least, quality time in which we are both free from other external obligations (work, family, friends, etc.) and can just be present in the moment with each other.
However, it was all those small moments where we were just together – maybe communicating, maybe just enjoying a quiet companionship – that I loved the most.
Now, almost a month after our visit to Chi-Town, I think back on that weekend with such fondness for those memories, but I also remind myself that we owe it to ourselves to make our relationship a priority in our lives.
We will always have giant to-do lists between us, goals to accomplish, chores to complete, people needing our help or attention. And those things are valuable – they give us purpose, make us feel productive.
However, sometimes the trappings of being “busy” are just that – trappings. They don’t provide true personal satisfaction, or perhaps more importantly, a true sense of mutual understanding and love.
I’ll say it now, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but love makes it all worth it.
For those little moments, those precious moments, in the past, present and future, I’m eternally grateful.