I went to the Art Institute on Thursday to settle myself. My mind has been racing — no job! no money! no peace! — and I thought the best way to slow it down was to sit in the Ando Gallery for as long as I needed to.
I’ve loved this room from the first time I visited. Until recently there were two glass doors that you had to push through to enter this space, which is quiet and dark and perfect for sitting. The sixteen square columns are like guards against the rest of the world. But the doors are gone, so I find that my own thoughtful spot is no longer really my own.
I sat on a bench, watching people walk in, examine the works on display (ceramics, mostly), then leave. Okay, so maybe I was the weirdo for being a silent person, sitting in a dark room. But there are not too many places left where you can go and know that people are going to shut up in there, too.
A lady with wavy blonde hair sat on the bench next to me. She also sat contemplating, waiting for the room to empty. She looked at me, smiled. We chatted, agreeing that the room was way better when the doors were there. You had to push past a barrier to enter a place which, when you arrived, soothed and embraced and settled.
Sitting alone in my apartment feels like a trap. The library is often full of whispers, coughs, and groans. There has to be somewhere else. My somewhere else is here.