I am not a tourist

…but going downtown makes me happy. Today was a Football Sunday, which meant The Dad took The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot out to the suburbs to watch the Bears’ game and play with their cousins. I had the afternoon to myself. So I did what I used to love doing in the days before I had children: I went shopping.

I took the bus eastward and transferred to the Red Line. Rode the Red Line down to Chicago Avenue. The Dad bought me an iPod Nano last year for my birthday, but I use it so infrequently that I didn’t have it charged. Also, I must confess that after listening to non-stop chatter whenever I go anywhere with my children, it’s nice to listen to the regular city sounds of the bus, the train, etc. when I am using public transportation. I suppose if I still commuted everyday, I’d want to shut out the sounds of the world and listen to music or audio books, but for as rare as a solo trip on the bus/L is for me these days, I am just as content to do the Trib’s Sunday crossword puzzle during the 1 hour trip from my house to 900 North Michigan Avenue.

Although I had been feeling under-the-weather this weekend, the 4-block walk to my destination was envigorating. I love Chicago all the time, but it was especially beautiful today with the warm, sunny weather and fall foilage. There were tourists pushing strollers, peaceful demonstrators handing out pamphlets about Palestine and Israel, suburban moms with big hair and shopping bags, and impatient hipsters in low-top Cons and skinny jeans.

My destination within the Bloomies building was this store; with my nursing days nearly behind me, I’m ready for a change. Ten minutes and $200 later, I was ready for lunch. I browsed in Williams-Sonoma for a bit (I’m lusting after the 3.5-qt Le Creuset dutch oven), got a not-very-good, overpriced sandwich from the coffee bar on the first floor, and walked across the street to Water Tower Place.

I hadn’t realized that American Girl Place had moved from its old digs on Chicago Avenue to the northwest corner of WTP. It was cute to see all the girls and their dolls. I’ve never been inside the store, but I’ve heard that it’s crazy inside. When The Girl was a baby, I was dreading the inevitable trip to AG to buy a doll and have tea. Now that she’s getting closer to the age when I might get her a doll, I think it might be fun to take her to AG on a weekday outside of the holiday season.

When I was in junior high school, WTP felt like the destination along the Mag Mile. Back then, there weren’t as many flagship stores and there certainly weren’t as many shopping centers along Michigan Avenue as there are now. I remember when getting safari t-shirts at Banana Republic was all the rage; the store is still in the same space — all airy and modern with signs announcing its 30th anniversary. When I looked at it, I could see a closed-in space with fake palm trees and bush props from 20 years ago in my mind’s eye. The rest of WTP looks the same as it did in 1988 (all chrome and glass and glare).

As part of my self-improvement day, I went to Sephora to pretty up my face. I have never been a make-up girl, although I’ve made various essays over the years. Another random memory: going to the Estee Lauder counter at Marshall Field’s on State Street when I was 13 or so. I ended up with a 4-product combination that I think I can get on my face every morning, and left a happy, tired woman.

I stopped at the world’s stuffiest Starbucks on Chicago Avenue for an iced tea on the way back to the L. I took the more direct route home: the Red Line to Washington to the Blue Line and back home.

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