Friend #43: Kindra (Chris, Ben, Caroline, and Elias)

From Wrigleyville with Joe, I headed back to the near west side to spend time with Kindra and family.  One of the things I love about visiting Chicago is that I only drive when I arrive into the city and when I leave.  Otherwise, I take public transportation everywhere.  So I hopped on the “L” for a little afternoon ride.

Kindra, my best friend from college, was the first person to know everything about me and love me anyway.  She’s been there for me in a crisis more times than I can count.  Most recently, she came to my rescue at the Brat Stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin after my car died, complete with 7-week-old son, Elias, in tow.  I stayed with Kindra and Chris and their 3 kids during my stay in Chicago.  They live in a gentrifying neighborhood, East Garfield Park, close to the Garfield Park Conservatory.  They moved into this neighborhood and bought a house because of their involvement with an organization called Breakthrough, which provides numerous sports opportunities, as well as a preschool, for the neighborhood youth.  That afternoon, Kindra and Chris were volunteering at a basketball tournament, so I went along to get a glimpse of the work of Breakthrough and to help watch the older kids, Ben and Caroline.

The playground and basketball court were packed with kids of all ages.  I was expecting something casual and amateur, but this was quite the real deal!  The teams had coaches yelling from the sidelines; the referees were officially garbed in black and white stripes.  I tried to occupy the kids, but 3 1/2-year-old Caroline hadn’t really taken a nap, so between heat and fatigue, there wasn’t much I could do to quell her cries for mommy.  So then Kindra took the kids and I helped at the registration table, which was a lot of fun, talking to some of the kids from the neighborhood.  It was amazing to see how many people from the neighborhood knew Ben and Caroline–it really felt neighborhoody.

The last time I saw Kindra, Caroline was also crying for her mommy, but it was because she was barely a month old.  It was fun to see her turning into a delightful little girl.  And 5-year-old Ben is also so smart and fun.  He was very interested in all the states I’ve been to and he has an unreal love of numbers.  And baby Elias rounds out the trio–literally–he’s quite round!

Elias

Ben and Elias

Caroline and Elias

When Kindra moved to Chicago a dozen years ago, I would visit a couple times a year.  This continued through her meeting and marrying the ever-steady and patient Chris.  She and I saw U2 together on the Vertigo Tour back in 2005 right before I moved to Los Angeles.  Since it’s now a 4 hour flight rather than a 4 hour drive between our homes, we haven’t seen each other for about 3 1/2 years now.  But I never doubt the strength of our love and friendship.  I think we’re in each other’s lives forever, whether we like it or not, but thankfully, we like it.  When I think about what I have with Kindra, cement comes to mind.  Strong.  Steady.  Stable.

No visit is complete without playing a few games together, which Chris usually wins, or without a couple of discussions with deep and probing questions.  What a haven at this point in the trip to have such a home away from home.

Kindra and the kids

Ben tried to take a picture of Chris and Kindra and me, but it didn’t quite turn out.

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