Honest. I think I really did. Float out of my body I mean.
Friday I finished up my morning meeting and did some other stuff and snuck out of work a few minutes early. I came home and threw my things together and took off for Van and Karin's house. The drive was gorgeous. It was a beautiful day with just a few hints of greyness as I went further north. There was something about the light that made the newly harvested fields looks slightly embarrassed...the way a cat or dog does when they've been shaved for some reason or another.
As I headed up Lake Shore Drive it felt so strangely familiar and new at the same time. It's been an amazing number of years since we left Chicago...it was 1994...and yet sometimes parts of the city seem unchanged....and driving up Lake Shore Drive and then Sheridan into Rogers Park was one of those. I was so early that I pulled off around Montrose Harbor and got out and admired the lake and the skyline and the day. Gorgeous.
I got to Van's house just a few minutes before Rod Picott pulled up so I got hugs from two of my favorite men right in a row! Could there possibly be a better venue for a house concert than Van and Karin's? They are in a two flat and live on the (gorgeous) second floor. The first floor apartment made the perfect space for the show and then to put both Rod and me up for the night. Could not possibly have been lovelier.
Rod was, as always, really magnificent...and charming and entertaining to boot. I love him. He's very special. The food was great, I met family and friends of Van and Karin's that I liked so much and met others that were new to all of us. Perfect. Afterwards, unlike Ernie and me at our parties, Van and Karin cleaned everything up! Then Rod and I sat on the couch, drank some wine and chatted. To be sitting there with someone I like so much, and feel so comfortable with, was the icing on a cake of an evening.
The next morning Karin made us wonderful pancakes, with maple syrup made by her family (!), complete with strawberries that Van bought that morning at the farmers' market from a guy who told him that the jet trails in the sky were poison being blown at us by the government. Utterly delicious despite any stray poison.
We said good bye to Rod and sent him off to his next house concert. I sat and talked with Van, thinking I would go back downstairs and not take up his whole morning. The next thing I knew it was after noon and I had to go pick up Ernie at the train station. I could have sat there all day talking to him.
I had hemmed and hawed about going to the signing Ian Hunter was doing at Laurie's Planet of Sound. What would I say to him? How weird would it be to see a bunch of well...not young people lined up to gush at this (admittedly gorgeous) 73 year old? When I mentioned it to Rod though he said, "Ian Hunter? That's a bona fide rock star...they don't make them like that anymore!" And when I professed my indecision he gave me one of those sideways grins of his and said, "Oh, you HAVE to go."
So I thought....wellllllll.....o.k.
Ernie's train was scheduled to get in at 1:00 so I headed downtown. The signing was at 2:00 over in Lincoln Square. I was way early when I left Rogers Park though as I am wont to do when I get anxious about things so partway there I thought I would just pull off into park as I did the day before. As soon as I did it I realized I was an idiot. It was SATURDAY. I immediately was trapped in a long line of cars and school buses with no way to get out of it. I had to sit and watch the time pass as I crawled forward. I finally darted back on to Lake Shore Drive and headed like hell to the Loop. Then of course there was an accident at the S curves. GRRR. Ernie called and said he was on Adams and I said I would be there soon. Finally I zoomed up Adams only to come to a screeching halt the very block before the train station. The draw bridge was going up. Sigh. I tried to relax as I watched the clock and remind myself that this is a classic Chicago experience. I watched the bridge go up and the sail boats go by---tried to take a few pictures for the boys. Then I expectently waited for the freaking gates to go back up. No go. Finally I called Ernie---who was just on the other side of the bridge and could even see our car----he said they couldn't get the damn bridge to go all the way back down. The workers then went with a gravity plan and pulled a bunch of their trucks onto the side that wouldn't go down. My blood pressure went up as I waited but finally the sides meshed appropriately and the gates went up! I gotta say I don't remember so many orange vested men overseeing the drawbridges when we lived there....is this something new??
I zoomed across the bridge and braked hard so Ernie could hop in. Then we promptly got trapped in one way streets and construction. LORD. Eventually we hurtled back onto the Drive. As soon as I'd hit town I'd been driving a lot faster than I do here and I pushed it even harder as we headed north. We got off on Lawrence and nodded hellos to the three theaters and the Green Mill as we sped by. We overshot Lincoln and I pulled over and told Ernie, "You drive!" We found the neighborhood and grabbed a parking space. I took off down the block like any frenzed 50 year old female Ian Hunter fan would and Ernie paid the parking and tried to catch up. As we got in front of the store our beautiful Annette was waiting and said, "it's ALL good." She must have seen the tension steaming from me. God I love her. We went into the store and bought two copies of the album we already had---one to be signed for us and one for Van. I should have bought one for Annette but my mind had turned off. We got in line and I hissed at Ernie, "you talk, o.k?" We got in front of Ian and everything fled my mind. He looked at me expectently and all I could say as I leaned towards him was, "I feel like I'm 17!" He laughed and said, “I wish I did.” I blinked at him mutely until he said, “what’s your name darling?” At least I THINK he said darling. I said, “oh....Cynthia” and he signed my cd. Then I mutely handed him my slightly bedraggled copy of Diary of A Rock’n’Roll Star. He signed it and Ernie said something about its wear. I have no idea exactly what he said because I was standing inches from Ian Hunter and I mean…HELL. Then Ian told us about finding a book about Red Cloud recently in a used bookstore and the signature in it and how pleased he was. I smiled and tried to radiate how wonderful that was. Then I thanked him and floated away while Ernie had him sign a cd for Van. I got out of the store and slumped against the wall with giddy exhaustion. Ernie came and grinned at me. Well, actually I think he laughed at me but I'm assuming it was lovingly done. Annette was positively jumping up and down yelling, “oh he LOVED you guys…he talked to you longer than ANYONE!” Then there was much giddy laughter between the two of us as we giggled and hugged like we were BOTH seventeen!
I was exhausted. We went down the street and up to a rooftop to have a drink or two and giggle some more. Annette hugged us and headed off to Pygmalion in Champaign. God I love her. She also tried to convince Rod Picott that there were mountains around Nashville. She really is magnificent.
Ernie and I sat there awhile until my equilibrium returned. We had no plans so we meandered through the city towards City Winery. We found parking (I KNOW…it was like the golden weekend) and found our seats. Our review of City Winery? Mmmm…I sure like some of their booking but I’m not sure it will be my favorite venue. I kinda felt like I was at a wedding. I didn’t expect it to be cheap so I won’t complain about that (but it’s not cheap although I liked my wine). We ordered several appetizers for our dinner. The olives were delightful and the duck tacos good. The sweet potatoes frites were so salty we couldn’t finish them (despite my love of salt) and the salumi…which I thought was going to be a plate of salumi…was a kind flatbread/pizza thing which was good but you know…when you heat up salumi it gets damn greasy. Eh. Service was good until Ian started playing. It was REALLY tight seating and no more than inches between tables. Eh. And YET…there was Ian so I forgive them all.
I think it might be the best show I have ever seen him play…even counting back in 1980 when I fell in love with him when the Hunter Ronson Band opened for Heart at the International Amphitheatre. At least I think it was the amphitheatre…either way it was a hell of a long time ago. I guess we’ve seen him four or five times…not including the TWO times we had tickets and couldn’t go. How unfair is THAT? Once was when my purse, paycheck and tickets were stolen from a bar in the loop the night of the show…the other one was when my sister became so ill a few years back. All his shows have been good in different ways…this was certainly the most joyful one I have ever seen however. Very heavy on the new album and rightfully so---the songs sounded incredibly strong, the band couldn’t have been a millisecond tighter. It was utter joy. The smattering of old songs was perfect….even All American Alien Boy! The top of my head almost blew off. Ian and the rest of the band seemed so happy to be there. It was unabashedly rock and roll.
Thank you to my beloved Ann and Bob for watching the guys….and I didn’t even remember it was her birthday today when I asked her. They are so good to us. Good Lord but I hope I can pay them back somehow for all they do for us. And thank you more than I can say to Van and Karin. And thanks to Rod for making me go to the signing, to Annette for taking pictures and making me feel loved. Thanks to Ernie because he makes everything possible. Thanks to my babies for not minding TOO much that I was gone all weekend.
And thanks to Ian for making me feel like I’m seventeen and for seeing me through all the years since I first fell in love with his music.
There’s more to say but I’ve written far too much already. More soon.