Monday, July 12, 2010
The news was playing as we scooted in to the black car, on the way to the airport. It was 1010 Winds, guaranteed to make you sad and stressed. I didn't say anything, though, as I sometimes do when trying to protect my children from the harsh realities of the world, digested for what reason I am never quite sure. As much as those close to me might disagree, I don't actually like telling people what they can and cannot do.
As it turns out, the driver was indeed sensitive to our needs for, after a short while, clearly having cottoned on to where we were headed, the news turned into music, a particular song he thought we might enjoy. All of a sudden, tales of terrible things were replaced by Frank Sinatra belting out: "MY KIND OF TOWN, CHICAGO IS..."
I laughed. "Thanks!" I said. Turns out the driver had never been to Chicago, was an East Coast man like Sinatra himself, had lived 60-some years in Park Slope. He regaled us with memories of Brooklyn days past, of the heyday when the Dodgers played, lived locally among their fans. His enthusiasm showed in his voice and in his eyes, that darted back to make contact in the rearview.
It was a great send-off to the town where I went to school, where my mother is from and now lives (the view above is the one from her balcony), a city that I was married in and lived in as a newlywed, playing house, preparing to be an adult. (I am still preparing...)
On arrival, a dragonfly greeted us and led us downtown on the highway, a harbinger of the friendly reception of Chicagoans in general.
"What are you doing today?" the girl at Starbucks asked me, as if we were old friends.
Shopping, as I like to do, I encountered Meliqua at the Marshall's checkout. She understood my addiction. As she rang me up, she shook her head.
"They took my first three paychecks," she said sadly, but her frown quickly turned upside down as she told me enthusiastically, "but I have a lot of great shoes!!" It was a great line, one I couldn't help but reward with a gold star.
I miss Chicago, the friendly bar scene, the big hangover hot spots for breakfast and the beautiful skyline. From the lakeside as I ran yesterday, looking up at the city once consumed by fire, rebuilt, my 9-year-old history buff reminds me by the best and brightest architects who donated their services after the tragedy, I was struck by how amazing cities are, how full of hope and possibility, how full of people, all trying in their various ways. Chicago is my kind of town, it's true.