Friday, March 02, 2007

Chicago, my kinda town.

I am in love. Not with people or things but with places. A place in particular, I suppose, I'm in love with Chicago. My big beautiful steadfast city on the edge of an ocean lake. Buildings that rise up and up in the air without stopping, the sparkly glass that will take one's breath away, the madness that is the city, the calmness, the peace, the glowing orange sky on a cloudy night when the snow falls down. Bright lights, Chicago city, my home sweet home.

I went to the states for any number of reasons but in the end I knew that I was not leaving this time without some time in Chicago. I wanted to go downtown and play on the streets, walk the sidewalks, disappear into a crowd that would not turn an eye my way as I walked through or past. I wanted to get eaten alive by the city, swallowed whole in the beauty it inspires.

When I worked in the city I worked on the West Side, first exist off the tunnel if you were traveling up from the South on the Dan Ryan. I'd sit on the steps of the Milwaukee Avenue building and watch the sunset over the lake with downtown sparkling in the foreground. I loved the sounds of the city when it crashed into night like that, the traffic from the snarled Ryan, the strum of music, madness, gangs, people, community, the hodgepodge of it all thrown together to make up a place that is at the same time close knit and without closeness. I'd watch the sun set over my city and wonder how anyone could ever leave.

And then I left it. I came to Korea and discovered Daegu. I feel sometimes like I'm cheating on Chicago, sleeping with some shiny new wench of a city, a little Asian jewel who talks with an accent and entraps me with alluring, mysterious beauty, uncharted territory, unfamiliar and because of this desirable; and I do love Daegu. Daegu has it's own fascinating features which make it just as dear to my heart as Chicago, but in the end Chicago is the home I long for at night when I feel like life has grown to placid and dull. I will sit entranced in my apartment and watch any bad movie that might come on TV if I hear the city name mentioned. I'll watch with baited breath looking for a street I know, a shop I've visited, a place I once ate, met friends, watched a movie, caught a show, saw a game, traveled to with students. It doesn't matter how bad, how long, how dreary a film or a show is, if I can see Chicago in it, I'll sit enthralled until the ending let's me go.

So it was that I found myself scarfless in downtown Chicago during the beginning of what would become one of the better blizzards to hit my fair city. I stood on the cold at the corner of Randolph and Michigan waiting for a bus to come looking up into the sky as white flakes fell all around me. I couldn't look away. I was transported by the beauty of swiftly falling snow onto my head, onto my tongue, into my eyes. The city gleaming and standing tall all around it, not caring, just being, just being there, I wept for how beautiful it was and how much I missed it. I wept for my unfaithfulness to my home sweet home. Someday, Chicago, I promise, I'll come back to you.

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