{a chicago & artist love letter}

taken on State St. in downtown Chicago

When Dawn got in my car on Thursday, us meeting in person for the first time, it felt...right. I expected some kind of, not discomfort, but an acknowledgement that, while I’d spoken to this person on the phone, Skype, and via email for years, I’d never physically shared the same space with her.

But when I drove up and she jumped in, it felt like we’d been getting together for years. There was no awkwardness, no adjustment phase, just two girls going out to have some fun!

There are just some people you click with, that get you and you get them. What’s lovely about Dawn and mine’s friendship (and this is only one example out of many!) is that we both bring different things to the table artistically. Sure, we overlap in areas, but I still have so much I can learn from her and her from me (hopefully!). Our styles aren’t really the same, the supplies we love are different, but our approach to art and journaling aligns perfectly.

Thursday was spent in downtown Chicago, at a huge 2-story Blick, then over to the first Paper Source. We caught a yummy lunch in-between and I introduced her to Frango mints (the best chocolate mints, still made by Macy’s, but a Marshall Fields original). We drank Starbucks together and chatted about life and art and family while trying to get through rush-hour traffic.

But on Friday, during the Artist’s Vendor’s Fair, she truly shined. It was in the way she smiled at a little girl looking at the Doodle Diaries. How she was patient when students came up to ask what they could look forward to the next morning, at her first class — the first she was to teach in-person.

I loved being able to show her around, to help, to be there for her, especially since I’ll be leaving Chicago, the city I was born in, went to college in, have walked through. Being able to share it just before I left really cemented how much I’ll miss this place despite hating the snow and weather. There’s a lot of history here — both sides of my family are from here, have deep ties to the city we call home — and while most is good, there’s just enough negativity to drive us across the country.

Maybe I’ve romanticized this place. Perhaps it is nothing more than metal and glass climbing towards the sky, highways and tollways twisting across the landscape like slithering grey snakes. I love how the sky can be a perfect blue with white clouds. The forests kept in their fenced preserves. The old buildings and streets I can rattle off in order. The giant library I lived next to, gargoyles protecting knowledge from the roof.

And I was able to share a slice of that with a friend I feel I’ve known my entire life. My last gifting of the city I know and love before I put it behind me and head towards the sun — and, ironically, the same city Dawn lives in.

For now, I’m happy and hopeful and grateful for the two days I spent in the company of an artist friend.