Building Love in Chicago

Everywhere I turn in Chicago there’s a building to inspire, to wonder about, and to explore. It’s easy to feel intimidated. They’re huge. The varied traditions behind them feel unfamiliar, perhaps out of reach. Are buildings like people?

Chicago is known for its architecture. Its Structures. Its Design.

  • The rounded, reflective cool of Cloud Gate in Millennium Park dares the mind to dream.
  • The massive, structural lines of The John Hancock Center, like the Eiffel Tower, majestically ask us what we’re made of.
  • My favorite this trip: The gothic revival Fourth Presbyterian Church, so quiet on the busy Magnificent Mile, calls for reflection. I hear the acoustics are great.

Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

I realized this: Every chest needs a Chicago inside it, a place where loving friends form a solid frame, ornament the windows, and bolster the heart. The history and exquisiteness of dear friends doesn’t intimidate; it inspires. In the most important yet intangible reaches of being, dear friends add structure and elevate us.

IMG_4818 ed-2

For me, going to Chicago is about more than relating to buildings. It’s about connecting with Phillip, and this time also to Mitchell, Erin, and Bethany, and to new friends, too.

This trip we celebrated #phillipsphortieth, a grand bash with folks arriving from all over the country. Phillip built a giant 40 with lights, the perfect backdrop for his smashing soiree. Here are a few photos from the party:

Email readers, please click here to view video.

Phillip and his friends are particularly fashionable, witty, and brilliant. It skews my view. To me, Chicago is a place of daring ideas, exactingly executed, perfectly styled–with warmth and goodness.

Driving away in the cab, I burst into tears. I didn’t want the buildings of Chicago to fade in my mind. I didn’t want the friends I saw there to feel shimmering and ephemeral. I’d rather we all lived near each other, our lives overlapping in regular, easy ways.

Love and belonging sometimes form a quiet garden we live in, surrounded, nurtured. Everything we need is at hand.

Sometimes love and belonging come from a lattice of intention, purpose, and effort, steel stretched over distance, reinforced over time, and requiring a bit of conjuring to sustain. I’d like the easy garden. But I move around a lot. And we’re all spread out.

So I find myself building Chicago in my heart: old friends, new friends, in one place or another, with serendipity and effort.

I’m grateful for air tickets. I’m grateful for warm hospitality. I’m grateful for dear friends. Chicago is new to me, but still left me dreamily chanting like Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.”

Happy Phortieth to Phillip Lantz, of Phillip Lantz Design.


Phillip Lantz


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