Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hannah's Flat is a Little Zen Wonder

I really regretted leaving Hannah's flat in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Bridgeport has much to love as a neighborhood. Hannah's flat stands close to all the wonders of 31st Street. I plugged into the community at Bridgeport Coffee in the morning and met many interesting people, including a woman making a final edit to her first novel due at her agent's that day. Across the street at Maria's Basement, a tap room and liquor store, I couldn't buy my own beer. I met the brewmaster of Haymarket Brewing doing a tap takeover and we talked and drank. I also met a guy my age that took up painting last year and now has an agent selling his canvases and galleries lining up shows for his wonderful work. Hannah's flat awaits stumbling distance from all this fun.

Yet, 31st Street has a profound touch because a Buddhist Temple stands next to a hundred year old cathedral that hosts the Monastery of the Holy Cross. On Palm Sunday, I heard Brother Ezekiel sing the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus Christ in a Gregorian style. The Gospel and everything is sung at the Monastery where eleven brothers begin the day at 3:30 AM with Vigils. Next, in the Buddhist temple, Zen nuns in saffron played ting bells, dragon head drums and singing bowls and led the congregation chanting one tantric sutra after another.

A nun reached out to me and insisted I join the congregation for a Sunday lunch in the basement below. Lunch delighted me with many succulent dishes, many vegetarian. I watched the karate class spar as I tucked into this deliciousness. I lit a bundle of incense as I left, and planted the sticks into the bronze serpent statue on the porch where a thousand burnt sticks poked out of the sand. Daniel Burnham the great Chicago architect, designed the building now used by the Buddhist community. I think the exterior made use of red sandstone from the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Hannah's flat offered a Zen like quality where I often enjoyed solitude and quiet, especially at night. When the hosts were at home, I could eavesdrop on their conversations in their Chinese dialect. I felt connected to mainland China as Skype made the home a family gathering during mealtimes. I did not understand the language but I feel I have been imprinted with the language.

The clean, fresh simplicity of the household gives clues to the wonders of the Oriental aesthetic. Read all lovely, cute wall paintings, including a reminder to brush ones teeth. I found my hosts charming and hardly overwhelming and I appreciated gallant gestures, like help with my bags.

I liked wandering into the kitchen to see mysterious ingredients soaking for the next day's menu. I suggested to my hosts that an experience package be added to Airbnb so guests who want to learn the cuisine by shopping, cooking and dining could do so during the stay.

All in all, Hannah's flat is a little Zen wonder. I made memories in Bridgeport thanks to this stay.

Picture borrowed from Wyatt Brothers, the Coffee Tyrant

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