We vow to listen to XRT until we are out of range. A radio preset button stays programed for just such occasions, like a memento. It’s a little like holding onto a 312, 847, 708 or 773 phone number long after you’ve moved out of state.
She’s headed westbound on I-94, I’m headed eastbound on I-94. We are making our respective ways home, over and up and up and over, on opposite sides of the metropolis and the big beautiful headache of a lake that puts so much travel time between us.
Yesterday, a sweltering Saturday, we met up at a bridal shower. Then we had lazy river ambitions. We’ve both moved away but we still know how to make ourselves at home in Tinley Park, this suburb we loved to hate but now just can’t. “It was a good place to grow up,” Sister said with nostalgia.
Our spontaneity required a Target run. “Go to the Super Target on 191st street, ” advised our shopping-savvy sister-in-law. Apparently not all Targets are created equal. It turned out the one at 191st is the new Target, out in Tinley, actually. It’s the one you can see from I-80, near the concert venue formerly known as First Midwest Bank Amphitheater formerly Tweeter Center formerly New World Music Theater. It’s where I once saw Counting Crows play and where the Grateful Dead would come every summer, as evidenced by the many old conversion vans camped out at the Speedway at 183rd and Harlem. “Up–the deadheads are back,” we’d say driving past.
So we went to the Tinley Park SuperTarget for flip flops (for me) and a bathing suit (for her). It’s the biggest, poshest Target we’d ever been in. “Just look at the home section! It’s huge!” Sister raved. And then for hours we sat in our double floaty tube. Round and round the lazy river we went, trying to remember to divert from the buckets every time we circled back. We succeeded most of the time. How easily our conversation topics slide between work and real estate and sex and politics and Jesus. Properly wet and sunned and hungry, we headed north on Harlem to Portillo’s for snappy Chicago dogs and cheese fries. We stopped at Jewel for beer and chocolate before finding the hotel.
There are no compromises, no concessions, no trade-offs when you vacation with a sister. Unlike when we travel with our respective husbands everything we do is the thing we wanted to do. It’s like vacationing with yourself only better.
At the hotel in downtown Homewood, the art and garden festival was happening outside. This was initially worrisome. Turns out it was a pleasure to meander through it in the dusky light with its jewelry and kettle corn vendors under the glow of the “Homewood Florist” sign and string lights over the street. All of this under the old quiet gaze of that historic-looking brick home that seems storied and significant but unrecognized. There was just enough time for that short browse before the whole event shut down and cleaned up promptly at 9 in true punctual suburban form. So we retired to our books and beverages and chocolate in bed in our hotel that until four years ago was a bank.
So it’s with reluctance that I turn off the music when I-94 East becomes a parking lot just over the Indiana boarder. I want to keep my word and keep listening until we can’t get a mutual radio signal. But in bumper-to-bumper traffic it’s prudent and responsible to open windows and not run the AC. So open go the windows.
go the cars in the westbound lanes. The semis two lanes over pop their breaks (there didn’t used to be so many semis on Sundays). In the lane between us young adults, apparently friends, maybe beach-bound, mess around and yell from one vehicle to another.
And then the roadside accident is cleared and we are moving again. I flip on XRT and listen until I’m driving into thickening static, thinning Chicagoland sounds somewhere around the New Buffalo exit. I turn it off, wondering if Sister can still hear it or if her signal, too, has been lost.