January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Chicago smells exactly like I remembered – Swisher Sweets mixed with vehicle exhaust and urine and fresh air from the lake. I know, it sounds repulsive, but somehow it isn’t. When I got on the ‘L’ today (possibly the loudest one I have ever been on!) I almost cried with joy. The screeching on the tracks, the passengers all watching each other half suspiciously, half carelessly, the way the door dings before closing – it all made me so happy. I whizzed along on the blue line for quite some time, taking in the different neighborhoods. The sky was the perfect grey and so foggy the tops of the buildings had disappeared. It felt like spring; like a good homecoming. My senses were on over-load as I took it all in as if it was the first time, but yet, it was all so familiar.
I could barely contain myself as I sat with my hands folded on my lap, staring out the window anxiously. I had no agenda but to take it all in. I soon found myself feeling more inspired than I have in years! The graffiti on the tops of the buildings that stood lined up against the elevated tracks, the sound of traffic, buses, and trains, and the people – orange hair, sharp suits, trendy styles and otherworldly outfits – made me feel like a child in a fairytale! The vintage buildings sharing space with the brand new architecture looked dream-like and mysterious next to the frozen lake.
I, with no agenda, took my time descending the stairs from the elevated platform but could feel the busy energy around me as people ran to catch busses or to get on to the next thing. I strolled to one of my favorite coffee places, getting a lovely latte to go and continuing on northbound. I walked through my old neighborhood, even passing my old apartment. I marveled at how much hadn’t changed. Walking far enough north, and crossing into the next neighborhood, I stumbled upon the storage facility where my belongings sit. It was odd to know that here I was, and there they were – both in this great city but somehow not yet connected. Eventually I got on another train and rode through a couple more neighborhoods, remembering previous apartments I had lived in or places I had worked at.
I explored the farthest north neighborhood, and then headed south to Michigan Avenue. The contrast of people and traffic and buildings between the two areas was vast, but the feelings I had stayed the same as I reveled in the complex yet continuous vibe of the city. My feet became sore from walking and my emotions were in need of some processing so I headed back out to the suburbs. I was sad to leave; I wanted to stay forever.
It has been quite a while since I got back to my sister’s place, but I can still smell the city. I have another month, more dental work, vehicle repairs, and ducks to get in a row before I can move back to Chicago. Today however not only made me realize just how much I am looking forward to going back, but it also reminded me that nothing is permanent. Two and a half years ago when I left my teeny apartment in Chicago and headed west I was heartbroken. I cried over losing that city. Yet, here I am, going back to my favorite place. And with all of the changes that I have gone through in the past two years, it is comforting to know that some things are still the same.