Sunday, August 22, 2010

Road Trip: Girls at Play

My good buddy Jill, who's been my friend since the 5th grade, treated me to a wonderful pre-birthday trip to Philadelphia yesterday.  She set it all up: a night at the Embassy Suites and a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the Renoir exhibit.  Wow...I'm a lucky lady.

The Parkway; Don't ask me about William Penn...

We checked into the motel at about 11, and headed straight over to the museum for the show, which was predictably wonderful.  I was most impressed by Renoir's tenacity.  Despite crippling arthritis, he continued to paint until he died at the age of 78, in 1919.  An amazing feat; the final part of the exhibit was a film clip of Renoir painting at the very end of his life, with his brushes tied to his hands.

Having just had my hand operated on, I understand his pain on a visceral level.  The statement he made rings true; he said that the only time he could forget the pain was when he was painting, so he continued to paint.  He had to choose between walking and painting (he was riddled with arthritis, and both activities took all of his energy).  He chose to paint.  What a guy!

Jill's Favorite: Dancing Girl with Castanets

After a great lunch at the art museum, we returned to the motel to reorient ourselves.  We decided that we'd enjoy hearing some jazz that evening, so we made our reservations at Chris' (15th and Sansom), then took a little walk to Love Park.
Aptly named. Robert Indiana's Love Sculpture in Love Park. Jill wouldn't pose, so I photographed a random happy family.
We stopped at an Irish pub on the way back, where we struck up a conversation with a Canadian man named Michael, and a bartender named Michael.  I suspect there were other Michaels in the bar as well. 
Canadian Michael was in the process of buying dinner for a police officer that he had inadvertently made an offensive gesture at...purely by accident, mind you.  Good old Michael. We didn't stay there long, though the place was otherwise charming. Michael's brother was feeling the love...perhaps a little too much. 

Tir Na Nog Irish pub, complete with Irish bartenders and multiple Michaels.
 Happy hour at the Embassy Suites followed, where we were amused by the crowd.  People watching is such fun!  We eventually made out way to Chris' (by cab),and enjoyed more people watching, along with a sumptuous meal, more wine, and an exceptional band. 
Chris' Jazz Cafe; Jackie Ryan with the Larry McKenna Quartet
How can I sum up the trip?  It was wonderful to spend some time with my good, long time friend.  Her generosity was overwhelming, especially right now; Peter is without work, and waiting for his unemployment to kick in, and this is my last week of summer vacation before I return to teaching.  I've wanted to spend some time with her for years, and we finally had the opportunity. I can't begin to share the millions of laughs or stories we shared; the 42 years of history we share is such  fertile ground for us.  We know each other so well that many things are unspoken.  It was comfortable, this time we shared.  Neither of us has a sister, but I believe we provide that familial closeness for each other.  It's comforting. And it was a long way from the farm, for a welcome dose of culture.

Heaven. A good memory to close the summer.  Thank you, Jill.

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