Last night I went to the Montrose Saloon, which has been a Chicago venue for beer and music for over 100 years, to hear my roommate Angela’s old-time string band WABOLABR play. (I know what the name means, but then I’d have to kill you.)
I joined Janna, who’s just relocated to Chicago from SF, an actress and improvisor. We met through friends of friends at a reading at the Goodman. We ate chicken, rice, and beans from next door, drank Old Style (regrettable, but a necessary experiment) and talked about the unlikely, fortuitous journeys that have brought us here.
I am another version of her, or she is of me. She got into town a week before I did. We both have 415 area codes, professional links to TJT and the 16th Street Theater, and took extended Amtrak train trips along the way. And we both agreed that this city has all the resources, artistic generosity, and open spirit you could possibly ask for. Listening to ourselves and asking what would make us most happy and fulfilled, as artists and as people, is what has brought us to Illinois.
I knew it was a trend, coming here, but I didn’t realize how much of one it was. Janna’s profile as a person is very similar to mine, and we’ve taken many paths next to each other, and now we’re both here. This is exciting. It means the collaborators I’ve been looking for are looking for me, too. There have been times in my artistic career where I’ve been afraid of finding my doppelganger, thinking that she, whoever she is, is going to take “the spot” designated for me. That comes from a more competitive point of view. My doppelganger, today, would want to work with me, because that’s all I want to do. And if she’s out there, I hope she contacts me soon. The idea is really appealing. The pie of artistic collaboration is not limited to a certain number of slices. The more you eat, the more there is.
It was the first time I’ve really gone out just to enjoy myself in Chicago, and it was wonderful. The band’s voices echoed like Superballs. I walked Janna to the train station and we felt the windy chatter of the trees and air around us. The air moves so much here that you can’t walk down a street in silence, even when there are no people around – the trees are always, always talking.
I think what they might be saying now is, “Autumn is coming.”