Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We recently had the opportunity to travel to Chicago. We were gone for eight days. Eric had business to do, but for me it was a great break from everyday life. We stayed on the 89th floor of the Suisse hotel and had an amazing view of the Chicago River as well as Lake Michigan. I walked up and down Michigan Avenue, swam in the hotel pool, went to the Chicago Art Museum. We had some wonderful dinners. We took the architectural boat tour and absolutely loved Millennium Park. Chicago has the most incredible public art.

It was fun for me to observe a new city. Downtown Chicago is very clean and well-kept. The flower boxes were brimming with seasonal Mums and ornamental kale. People were conservatively dressed in black and gray business attire. I don’t think I saw any tattoos or strange piercing. It was obviously not San Francisco. We only saw a couple dogs in all of downtown, even in the park, and they were very small. It’s probably too cold in winter to walk dogs in the city.

The last two nights we stayed at the Palmer House which is a gorgeous old historic hotel. We ate dinner in their lobby restaurant and I said out loud what I’d been thinking for days. It was so unique and special to be away but not have part of me feel I should be home. For the first time in memory I didn’t need to feel guilt about being away. The nest was empty and there was no need for me to be there. I even briefly contemplated extending the trip and going to Connecticut to visit Allie, but she had weekend plans. All I had at home was a little finch, Coco Chanel, and finches are very low maintenance. It was a wonderful epiphany.

I spoke to Lana the next day. She’d been coming by every couple days to feed the bird. She reported that Coco had pulled out almost all his feathers and the floor around the cage was covered with them. She opined that being alone so much had made him a nervous wreck. I felt terrible but then I got a little mad. This three ounce creature was lonely? We couldn’t leave him without feather pulling and anxious pooping? Bird guilt? Say it isn’t so.

When we got back the next day Coco did indeed look terrible. The songbird was virtually mute. He pulled apart his bed. Nothing looks sillier than a four inch bird with a beak full of cotton. He is an exceptionally interactive finch which I think he got from Eric. He keys into little household sounds like the push buttons on the phone and the timer going off and then imitates them. Sometimes when he’s alone a lot I’ll leave some music on for him. He loves The Doors.

It took a couple weeks but he’s back to his normal self. It’s obvious this little creature can’t be home alone. Arrangements will have to be made the next time we go away. I’m thinking of leaving him with the neighbors who have three kids and a bulldog puppy. We’ll see who has any feathers left at the end of that trip.

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