Friday, May 18, 2012

Nolan and NATO

I'll be honest, all the NATO hype has had me a little concerned, and with sweet texts/phone calls from our moms, it seems as though they may have also been a bit concerned. And it really just started today and so I'm sure the worst of it is yet to come. But Nolan and I had to start his birthday celebration off right by having breakfast with a friend, NATO or no NATO. So this morning we ventured into down town, and I was prepared for the worst.

I'll admit, there was an eerie feeling as we strolled down the oddly empty streets, and every once in a while I'd get a pit in my stomach when we'd pass the occasional passer-by and never, was a single one of them pushing a stroller. I felt like maybe I was being the dumbest person on Earth by prancing around while very few people, and especially very few baby-in-tow people were out. But we pressed onward.

As lunch time hit, more and more people emerged from the high-rises and I did feel a little less silly. We started seeing a few more kids and moms, but as more people appeared, so did more law enforcement, and though that was supposed to be comforting, it wasn't. Anyhow, we kept walking and observing, and the knot in my stomach tightened and grew.

Then we walked upon a couple of college students (or so I assume they were) with a saxophone and an upright base, with the sax case open to receive donations. The shiny sax caught Nolan's eye, even though they weren't playing music at the time, so I asked if they'd play a song for Nolan. We parked the stroller and they began to play a sweet, smooth, instrumental version of "Isn't She Lovely" and I became so, so, so emotional. Here, in the midst of one of the biggest cities in the United States, during what could potentially be one of the most dangerous and riotous times in this city's history, there was music. And suddenly, Nolan and I, and it seemed everybody else around us, forgot that there was fear in the air, and the tension lifted. I've never seen so many people put money in a musician's case before. And though they could have been playing "Isn't She Lovely" for the women walking by, or perhaps for their girlfriends, to me, they were playing it for Chicago, because right then and there, She was at her loveliest.
Then I realized I didn't have a single bit of cash or change, not even a blasted penny with me. And my moment of bliss, emotion, and feeling good was over. I felt like the biggest jerk for first requesting that they play, and second parking ourselves down and getting a free show. Oh well.

Then we met up with Daddy for lunch, and on our way to the subway (which I was seriously dreading riding) we came upon a demonstration/protest (the 2nd I've seen so far). My favorite protestors are the wizard man and the nurse. Good for them for wearing that. Good for them.

We watched the march, I tried to teach Nolan the words in case he wanted to chime in next time, and then we headed to the subway which I was certain would be blown up by NATO hating terrorists, the moment we boarded our train. We walked down stairs, paid our fee, I thought of sentimental things that made me feel okay about dying, and then I heard music again. Not being sure if we were in heaven or not, we walked towards the music. When I saw the guitarist, I was still confused about our whereabouts because I'd seen this guitarist before and maybe he/she (I genuinely do not know if this person is a man or a woman), died too. As we approached him/her, he/she saw Nolan and started playing "Old McDonald Had A Farm" and "Sesame Street". I thought that gesture was so sweet, and so kind and so again, we parked and listened. 

You know, there's been so much talk about this NATO stuff, and how it's all going to be so crazy and scary, and, maybe it will be. But today I was reminded that no matter how crazy the world is, people are still good. There is still so much beauty, and kindness, and generosity, and that's what makes living livable. That's what makes living away from family possible. That's what makes living during hard times doable. And that's what makes life lovely. 
NATO summit, bring it.