Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Day in the Life, Part VI
Sweet Home Chicago?

And then:

The anti-climax.

A return to the city with the highest sales-tax in the nation; the worst postal system of all major cities; and government corruption that serves as a backdrop for Gotham City.

[Not to mention, the astoundingly empty apartment.]

But it's not all bad. There are free festivals. Bike trails galore. Forest preserves, a beautiful skyline and storms powerful enough to transform downtown into a land of Oz.

Monday night, for example, the Lightening Detection Network — who knew such a thing existed?! — recorded 90,000 bolts of lightning in northern Illinois (essentially, the Chicagoland area).

That's a year's worth of lightning in a single night. And I'll tell you — it was an amazing sight (terrifying, even) to witness.

But this summer, otherwise mild, has had its share of freak storms... including one early June that ruined countless pieces at the Printer's Row Book Fair and sent a friend and I running for cover (but not before we helped a few sellers try to protect their goods).

Sirens were wailing all around us,

And by the storm's end, sellers were offering books as discounted prices — or discounting them altogether.

And I thought there was something strangely... poetic... in this juxtaposition of a syllabus and a trash can...

and a mysterious foe.

Particularly in a land I can never quite call home. A city I at once love and hate with equal ferocity. A land I refer to, in my loneliest moments, as the city of Cold Shoulders.

(With apologies to Carl Sandburg.)

But this is it. This is where I have been, and where I am. It's where I go at the end of the day, and where I return after vacations and camping trips and — yes — a 3,000 mile sojourn to the Pacific.

But, why, then, cannot I not refer to this place as "home"

And actually mean it?


Pamela said...

Let the wind blow you someplace and see if it is home --

touching photos. I'd read about the tornado warnings in Chicago.

Technomonk said...

That is a crazy amount of lightning!

Anonymous said...

Home is where the heart is. And your heart really isn't in that place. If it is any consolation, I haven't really felt like I have had a home in over 7 years.

You need to make your own space. But you know that already.


Meh said...

I don't know if it's because I've lived here all my life, but every time I see that skyline, I definitely feel home. It may not be an actual place in the city, but I know I am "home" when nearby. Does that make sense? It's a difficult feeling to describe on three hours of sleep.

michele said...

I understand what you mean about living someplace that just doesn't feel like home, even years later. I've come to think that maybe there are some cities that just aren't meant to be "home" no matter how long you stay there.

But I think it's almost as distressing to see all those ruined books! I know some of them were probably destined for the landfill anyway, but seeing so many of them utterly ruined like that - Ouch!

Eli said...

Yeah, for all its charms, Chicago isn't what I would call homey.

I felt very comfortable in Hyde Park. With a park across the street, local small grocery to go to, some really nice affordable restaurants, and short walk to the water. Maybe you just need to try a new neighborhood?

XOXO said...

I think there is a reason I refer to the place I live as home, but the place I grew up as home-home. There really is only one home-home.