Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wandering old haunts–Neighborhoods

I’m visiting Chicago this week, placing our device prototype into surgery at Evanston Hospital.   The facility is four blocks from Northwestern University where I earned my Masters (1979) and PhD (1982) in the department of Biomedical Engineering.

A long time ago, indeed.  But six years of my life, the same that I’ve been expat.

I wrote a couple of days ago about the tidy red brick row houses in Dutch villages.  Evanston also builds with red brick, but each to their own lot; same two or three stories, but with much larger trees.  It’s a style the British call detached, but in America that probably describes the social distance between neighbors more than the physical gap between their homes.


The wide streets are a notable change from Dutch villages, al is the profusion of huge, flowering trees, white and pink against the blue sky.  Spring is a bit more advanced in the Midwest, with bright green shoots luminous in the sun (very Hockney-esque).  The play of light and shadow along gardens and brick, was beautiful.


The other contrast was the silent emptiness of it all: no cars, bikes, pedestrians.  It was silent except for the birds: no pedestrians, no children, no shoppers.  It’s such a contrast to the constant hum of Maastricht.

I angled off along to the lakefront north of campus, the lighthouse and art center was still there, along with the stately homes that I used to think that I might move into some day.  The waters were whitecapped and turgid green, flags snapping in the cold northerly wind.  The edge of the campus was much as I remembered, the same gothic-letter signs, the industrial bulk of the Tech Institute, the orphan and emerging departments sequestered in neighborhood houses around the main campus.

Funny…the details that I forget after being away 30 years that are nonetheless absolutely familiar once I see them again.  It restores me faith that there is an objective reality that endures irrespective of what we think about it.

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