Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I've just realized that I keep posting "Here are things that suck about Chicago" stories - pigeon torture, creepy guys, dark trains stopped in tunnels - so now I'm going to take a moment to remind you, my thousands of readers (ha!), and myself of things to love about this city.
1) Riding the El. For about $90 a semester, I get unlimited rides anywhere I want to go, and though my commute is about 45 minutes, I can read or sleep the whole time. Plus I get some exercise during the short walk on either end. No driving, parking, gas, pollution, road rage, or fender-benders. If something does go wrong with the train (which is infrequent), it's SEP.
2) My neighborhood. A quiet tree-lined street of 1900-era houses with wide front porches and an alley lined with basketball hoops. Lots of different kinds of folks live in our neighborhood - young professional couples with increasing numbers of children, older folks who have lived there 50 years, Mexican and African-American families, weird guys with rock bands, weird guys who wash their cars compulsively, a church caretaker who putters around 18 hours a day. Also: occasional visits from possums, deer, coyotes (!)... constant visits from squirrels, house finches, starlings, sparrows, downy woodpeckers, etc etc. Oh, and the neighbor's cat, Spooky. And when the sky is clear at night, even though we can't see that many stars in the city, standing on the back porch and looking up is a deeply moving and connecting experience.
3) The view from campus. The UIC campus is not attractive, though it has improved lately, but seeing the skyline framed by the stark brutalist architecture is a postcard-worthy sight.
That's enough for now because I have lab work to do, but I will write more. I've been thinking about this since a relative recently expressed puzzlement over my choice of home (this is not unusual - a certain portion of my family seems to resent that I ever left Rockford to live in this crime-ridden crackhouse of a city). I could see him struggling to avoid saying something rude, and he finally came up with "I suppose Chicago's okay, if you know your way around." I do know my way around, thanks, and I love this city and hope to stay here a long time yet.