Monday, October 15, 2012
My Vacation as Parallax, Pt. 5
The real meat of this vacation, the longest and most potentially meaningful stretch
of it, began Friday evening.
The sign says “Chicago 30”, but that does not mean you will be in Chicago in half an
There is no good time to drive in or out of Chicago.
Every artery in and out is a seemingly endless construction project. And where are
all these cars going at all hours of the day and night?! Do people not work for a living
or have homes where they sleep?
Listening for the traffic report is fruitless. I swear, the lady who reports traffic for
WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR station) must know and despise me, for she leaves out travel
time for whichever highway I am on. Without fail.
The frustration of driving 1 on the outskirts of Chicago did not faze me. I was coming
I lived in Chicago for the better part of a decade. I didn’t grow up here, but here is
where I became a grown up 2.
To my mind Chicago is a series of neighborhoods, each describing a slightly different
synecdoche of the city.
Some of the neighborhoods show me much of what I love about Chicago; some show
the things I do not. There is great creativity there, and great work for justice. There
is also darkness, great injustice.
It’s a complicated business, this walking around with eyes opened.
During my time in Chicago I lived in seven different neighborhoods. I did a lot of
wandering, a lot of floating.
I’m hoping to do some work while I’m in town.
You see, I’m writing a book and album- companion pieces- about losing something
important. A lot of references to Chicago come in during the book. The thing I’m
writing about losing I really started losing in Chicago.
I’m not here to find it again. I’m not interested in having it back, frankly.
What interests me is the trip I took when it disappeared.
I’m going to visit each of my old neighborhoods while I’m in town.
I’m going to visit the shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops I used to frequent.
I’m going to visit a couple of my old workplaces and lots of old friends.
I plan to treat these visits as mirrors of my loss and shame and damage. I doubt I’ll
improve greatly through the process, but I assume I’ll get some good songs out of it.
Apparently that’s all that really matters to me.
1 Sitting still.↩
2 This is most certainly dependant on who you ask. MANY people in Chicago have known me for being quite childish, indeed.↩