“Come sit with me,
And we can watch the sun s t r e t c h
In the sky
As our city wakes,
Ever so slowly,
Into a beautiful day.”
It was exactly what I needed, this fall break. What a gift – to spend a blissful few days in a wonderful city with some best friends. Moments in the Art Institute, wandering the light-filled halls, stopping momentarily at pieces that caught my eye, the loneliness that I had hidden in my heart for the past few days was suddenly gone; how odd that in a city of so many people, the feeling of loneliness can be both so distinct and profound, and yet can sometimes be completely dispelled. Sharing a similar emotion with a complete stranger over an art piece, breathing in the warmth of a large cup of hot coffee in a beloved coffee shop next to a business puzzling over the crossword of the day, playing Bach and Brahms and anything and everything in a gorgeous light-filled room in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan, falling slowly head-over-heels with a violin that I might never play again, and then being able to share these experiences with a friend – there is nothing that my heart needed more.
I loved the working-class, still Mid-western, roll-up-your-sleeves feel to the city. I loved that families and couples met up at various points around the city to walk home together at the end of the day. I loved the L, the fact that transportation was so convenient and reliable throughout the city. I loved the way that culture, art, and ideas were integrated into the city in a way that was not overwhelming, but simply present and appreciated. The blend of new and old gave the city such character and spirit; Chicago has raw grit and true heart – it doesn’t shy away from its dilapidated corners, it embraces the dirt and grime and rickety staircases, just as much as it appreciates beautiful architecture and eclectic artwork. It’s a city that collectively seems to work hard, exhaustion can seep into the city’s cracks, collecting in the briefcases of the business-men that hurry to and from office buildings at all hours, in the faces of the students exiting the various university locations around the city, in the constant state of construction on various streets; but it is also a city that is ever-alive with people enjoying life moments – sunshine and autumn leaves, long walks down Michigan avenue, a good book, a drink or two with friends after work, and runs by the Lakefront. In the early morning hours at my friend’s apartment, watching the haze of purple-blue lifting inch by inch from the buildings, the sun slowly rising and kissing the city in warm rose-gold light, I felt a centering, a peace – a love for the possibility of the new day in the city, for what the future holds.