Sunday, December 8 2019

chicago pop-up gallery

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! We're having a late start this morning. Even though we've only been away from the house for three days, it feels like longer. I suppose Rodney has been away for a week, so he's the most deserving of a relaxing day. Today, there couldn't be any less on the agenda. We're sitting around the breakfast table enjoying a Dutch baby and Marissa and I are enjoying the maiden voyage of our new Dutch coffee maker. I had full confidence in the new coffee machine - so much so that I slipped our old Black and Dekker coffee machine into the garbage before I even took the new one out of the box. And my confidence was not misplaced. This coffee tastes like it was crafted in the most hipster of coffee shops, and I love how futuristic it looks on our coffee bar.

Yesterday was a long, fulfilling day. After slowly emerging from bed, Sam whipped us up some pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Adam was already at work. "He gets up around five," Sam explained. "And it's still a long day for him, he usually finishes around three or four." After finishing up breakfast and getting in some last sips of coffee, Marissa, Rodney, and I packed our stuff and prepared to go to the gallery. With Sam in the front seat and Marissa squeezed in the back seat behind one of her paintings, we carefully navigated the tight city streets, winding crowded intersections, turning into a small alley, and finally delicately turning into our reserved parking spot. The gallery spot was beautiful - wide, clean floors and walls, a high ceiling, big beautiful glass doors that opened up to the street, and they even had a ping-pong table in the back. Rodney grabbed a ball and paddle and got to fiddling while Marissa, Sam, and I unpacked the car. In a matter of minutes, we were set up and ready to open the doors.

I was proud of Marissa. She's done galleries like this before, but something about this Logan Square venue she rented really felt like a store front. Seeing Marissa answer questions and chat with curious locals made the fantasy of someday owning a storefront seem more palpable and real.

And the gallery was popular. With only a hand made wooden sign that said "Astuary Art - open gallery" to guide them, people started to wander in immediately.

As Marissa and Sam held down the storefront, Rodney and I played ping-pong in the back room. We went for a walk to pick up some coffee, then later on went on another excursion with Sam to pick up lunch. We chose a taco place, lured in by the smell of grilled chicken, fresh salsa, and carne asada. As Rodney and I shared a steak burrito in the back room by the ping-pong table, Marissa poked her head in to silently mime a fist pump, celebrating another sale.

After lunch, Rodney and I went for another walk around the neighborhood. He was quiet, and even insisted on walking about twenty feet behind me with his hands in his pockets. After pressing him a bit, it seemed like he was OK, but just wanted some alone time. And that's understandable. He had been away from his house since getting picked up by Grandma last Sunday, and has had a busy week playing with his cousins, going to the museum, spending the night at Uncle Adam & Auntie Sam's place, and now helping out at the gallery.

As a side note, Rodney has the hardest time saying "Uncle Adam." Each time he tried to get Uncle Adam's attention, he accidentally said "Uncle Alex", or even "Uncle Ass" on occasion, which Sam was a fan of. The d sound is hard, isn't it?

But there we were, slowly and pensively wandering around the Logan Square neighborhood, and while Rodney was trudging along with his hands in his pockets, he still stopped to ask to pet someone's dog, ask a stranger about riding the bus, and of course wish happy holidays to even the most surly of city slickers that passed by. I even took the opportunity to snap a few dramatic band pics of Rodney. I think he'll thank me for that later in life. Wandering around the city with his hood up, he looked undeniably cool, even for a three year old.

Finally, it came time to close the gallery doors. We packed the car, then swung by the house to grab the rest of our things and bid a farewell to Ginny - Adam and Sam's dog. She frolicked with Rodney in the living room as I inched my way down the winding, crooked city steps. We waved to Sam as we turned on a street and left the neighborhood. I could see Ginny happily bouncing in the rear view mirror. Ginny the dog left an impression on me. She's the kind of dog that is so happy to be alive, it's almost a living, breathing challenge to attack your own life with the same joy and ferocity.

Rodney fell asleep before I even got on the highway, the lurching of Chicago traffic lulling him to sleep like a slow boat. Marissa and I chatted about the weekend and gallery for a bit before she too finally succumbed to a car nap. "Do you want me to put on a podcast for you?" asked Marissa, breaking a long, haggard yawn. "Nah, I don't mind just sitting here."

It's been a long, rewarding, fulfilling weekend, but we're happy to be home. At three today, we are going to pick up our dogs, and the rest of our Sunday schedule has been emptied in the interest of staying in our pajamas, watching Christmas movies around our tree, and soaking up family time before another work week. Later today, I'm going to sneak out to the grocery store. Tonight, I'm making pork and cabbage soup - which will hopefully bring us back from the teetering edge of exhaustion induced soar throats and sniffles we're all feeling.

To Marissa's fans in Chicago, thanks for coming out and supporting us. Galleries are always scary. It takes a lot of faith to pile every painting you have in the car and drive it all to a new city. There's always a danger that we picked the wrong spot, or picked the wrong weekend, which is why we're grateful for the love and support. "This place was awesome," Marissa said while packing up. "We have to do Chicago again."