Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Turning back time

Last weekend is when we turned the clocks back. As luck would have it, I spent that weekend in the past, in Springfield, IL.

First, my hotel. The State House Inn, so called because it is almost directly across the street from our State Capitol. I imagine it's very popular with lobbyists and others in town to conduct state business. I loved it though because of it's charmingly retro mid-century modern decor. Pop art and blonde wood was everywhere! It reminded me most fondly of my uncle, for this is the style of decor he always favored. (It's why I have such affection for the sleek, light colored coffee table upon which my feet rest as I post this.) It's also very Mad Men.

Then there is our State Capitol Building. In all the times I've visited Springfield, I've never even seen it because our current state house is not one of the Lincoln sites. Built in 1870, it's more attractive than I realized. (News coverage is always a reporter close up, on the steps, holding a mic.) It's also more majestic than our current legislators deserve.*  

The way the Capitol looked from my hotel
I wonder if 50 years in the future, this state house won't join the Old Capitol on every school kid's tour. The Old Capitol is preserved because it's the site where legislator Abraham Lincoln delivered his "Nation Divided" speech. From 1997 to 2014, Barack Obama was a state senator here.
I was surprised by how nondescript the other buildings in this part of town are. So many of the issue that impact my life have been decided in gray squarish structures -- The Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Secretary of State -- that look like boring little community colleges.

Of course, I also spent a good deal of time with Abe. I visited his house in the morning, followed by a visit to the train station where he gave his impromptu farewell to Illinois (a short, lovely little speech that revealed so much about the way his glorious mind worked) and ended the day with a stroll through the Presidential Museum.

I've visited the Truman, Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton museums, as well, and Lincoln's is the one aimed most directly at children. I understand this. To kids, Abe is the Elvis of Presidents. (As, of course, he should be.) But it's disappointing because on this day (Sunday, November 1), I had the place virtually to myself. Truly, I've never been here when it's been so empty. It would have been nice to linger and learn from a terrific, challenging new exhibit. Alas, that didn't happen.

I was excited to see one of the original sets and many costumes from the recent movie Lincoln, generously donated by Steven Spielberg. Sally Field lent her thoughts on playing the much-maligned Mary, and I appreciated that. But did I learn anything new? Not really.
Me in Cubbie blue, waving from Abe's house

Still, time spent with Abe is always time well spent. Impressive and inspirational. It was also cool because this year's Nanowrimo is historical fiction, and it was nice to immerse myself in the world my characters would have lived in.

I also loved getting away by myself. Reading magazines, working on my 2015 novel, wandering streets where no one knows me. It's so refreshing! En route to Springfield, I rode the train partway with a neighbor. Upon my return, I ran into neighbors in the hall and the laundry room and was intercepted by the janitor. Nice people, all, but blah-blah-blah. I enjoyed, and was rejuvenated by, my anonymity. This may come as a shock to those who know me in real life, because I can be quite blabby, but I do dearly love my alone time!

*Our state finances are now such a mess that Illinois has stopped paying our lotto winners. Gulp.


  1. Boy do I get how rejuvenating it is to getaway alone.

  2. since i am so close...i should do this! but would be afraid to go alone, i know i would get lost.

  3. Oh, how I love alone time! And what a great place to have some. For all the years I lived in Chicagoland, I never made it to Springfield, though I wanted to go.


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