Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soggy Bus Rides

I wrote this a of couple weeks ago, when Hurricane Ike effects washed down the city, but I wanted to post it (and just for the record, today is a gorgeous Saturday):

After work today, I squeezed from the wet streets into the express bus that would carry me from downtown to home. Soggy bodies circulated in and out, and rain slipped in through the creases in the ceiling above the aisle. I suppressed a devilish smirk as the people filtered in and out and renegade raindrops splashed atop their heads. I’d watch their reactions to the dirty droplets, the recognition that they were inside but it was still raining, and their futile attempts to dodge the drops in the crowded aisles. It wasn’t so much that I was suppressing laughter at their misfortune (small misfortune, indeed), but that I found amusement in the fact that the dripping ceiling was new to each person as they filed by. I suppose I could have warned them—not that it would do much good, considering the number of people crammed into the aisle—but instead I just watched very different people react in exactly the same ways. As soon as a drop hit a hairline, an arm, an exposed toe, they’d look up, surprised, sometimes annoyed. I had done the same thing myself, when I first felt the damp discomfort of the dripping roof. I might sound sappy when I say this, but it’s moments like these, in a city of strangers, when I am reminded how alike we all are.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Being new to the city, new to the "real world," new to my job, and my roommates, and subletting, I have no shortage of topics to write about. My days and nights revolve around, and within, this magnificent city. It makes me feel like a child, all this newness. I'm re-acclaimating myself to my surroundings, exploring the ways I fit, or if the city even has a niche for me. Of course, Chicago seems all-encompassing, as if she had outstretched arms into which all of us tiny people run, looking for comfort, but she's a bit stiff. She's a frigid mother. Her arms are always open, but she won't protect you--that you'll have to do for yourself.

Within these far-reaching arms there sits a cluster of buildings where activity is particularly concentrated, a place I love to be--downtown. I work in a famous, lanky building that I bounce toward every morning, listening to my iPod. Each morning, I hop into an elevator, and let it lift me up into the clouds with ear-popping swiftness. As we climb the stories, I fight away those sneaky fears that try to creep into my mind of the possibility of elevator malfunctions and a swift-plummet death (and, oh yes, I have those fears.) I'm always relieved when the elevator spits me out onto my floor, where I do one last yawn to open my ears against the altitude, and then patter along to my desk.

The view in the morning is breathtaking. The beauty of the lake's untamed nature juxtaposed against the hard precision of man-made skyscrapers always gives me a thrill. I can see the Sears Tower from the window by my desk (facing southwest), and enjoy the sun flooding into and over the magnificent architecture of the city. On foggy mornings I giggle at the thought of working in a cloud.

Once I've savored the morning, I get right into work. I work hard, and usually for nine hours straight, and it feels good. I accomplish so much, I forget about my worries, and I feel more authentically Chicagoan. I idealize this place as a city of hard workers, career-minded and solid. Though I know that's a gross generalization, and untrue, it's what I want for myself, and what I strive for. After all, the city won't take care of me--I have to pave my own way.