Big city girl

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We’re getting used to living in downtown Chicago. The background din has softened; the audible impatience of a honk, the hum of too many cars, and the urgency of intermittent sirens are all blending in. If I open the window of our 11th floor room, the sound is harshly symphonic—both intrusive and soothing; close the window and I am hermetically sealed. When I step out into the streets, I become part of the beehive swarm and the noise is manageable.

The view out of our window

We don’t have a clock in our room, but we do have the Wrigley Building’s clock tower. How cool is that!

Here we are.

I’ve never lived downtown in a big city before. Here are a few impressions from this small-city rube.

  • The majority of pedestrians are under 30, dressed in black-casual (if you want to stick out on the streets of downtown Chicago, wear a bright color), carrying backpacks. The stereotypical “old”, bent over a walker, doesn’t exist. Chicago “grays” stride with purpose in stylish sneakers, wear black, and carry backpacks—maybe it’s survival of the fittest.
  • There are few noticeably overweight people walking on the sidewalks. Again, natural selection at work, I assume.
  • Oncoming pedestrians don’t move to the side. Shoulder brushes, met at home with a murmured apology, are run of the mill (no offense given/no offense taken) encounters. 
  • Street birds are scruffy and sad.
  • Pre-made, grocery-store food, whether from Whole Foods or 7-Eleven, is mediocre.
  • Don’t be fooled by a sunny day—if it’s after Halloween, it’s cold.
  • Chicago pedestrians don’t wait for the walking man’s go-ahead light to cross the street and they don’t hesitate to jay walk. Chicago police have meaner fish to fry.
  • Big-city hotel rooms are small.
West Park neighborhood
Fannie May, Dearborn Street
Divvy, Chicago’s bike share program
 
This week’s edition of “You Had To Be There”
 
Don’t assume it’s about you: 
 
I walk through the door of After Words, a Seattle-style, independent book store. I am the only customer. A city hipster, sitting behind the check-out desk sporting a scruffy beard and knit watch cap, is reading David Foster Wallace’s latest book and doesn’t look up. I browse a bit: sci-fi, young adult, philosophy, a few New York Times’ Best Sellers. I notice steps leading downstairs. “What’s downstairs?” “More books,” said hipster, not looking up from his book. 
 
Hmph, more books, indeed. Found a collection of Alice Munro stories, approach hipster to pay, “Sorry, didn’t mean to ignore you,” he beamed. “I’m having a hard time getting through this one.”
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4 Responses to Big city girl

  1. Bob Allen says:

    This time in this big city means walking, lots of walking for the sweetie. It is not easy navigating your way among the skyscrapers and intermittent street signs. She does a marvelous job of getting out and about doing the many things it takes to live in this big city. Yahoo to the sweetie for everything you do. Love you!

  2. Patricia Curtis says:

    Well, I have always seen the big city girl in our sweetie, she can find her way with all walks of life, and shine on through all situations. Love you both…hugs and love in BABA, Patty

  3. Barb says:

    Awesome culture. I love all your experiences Miss Marla. Glad your there with the sweetie

  4. Ginny says:

    What? No Recipe? Too close to tjs and Whole Foods, I guess. Dog is my co-pilot!

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