Photoset Challenge – Day 36

24 Apr

I have work to do, as usual, but I also have Things to Say, so here I am.

I haven’t taken any pictures today.  I haven’t done anything today except read about the Vietnam War and go to class and acquire a faculty advisor in Political Science.

Yesterday, though, I started working on a little project, the nature of which I am unsure still.  I went down to the lake and stood in the cold and took pictures of the city until I got mauled by the lake and almost permanently froze my hands.

This is what the water was like yesterday.  How crazy-awesome is that?  Also, this was about the size of the wave that hit me.  It’s okay, I was totally asking for it.

It was amazing because I was standing right on the edge there, looking at the city and the water, and I saw the giant crests churning against the concrete, and knew, I knew that one was going to break soon, and break high and hard.  And when it did, this arc of water was suspended over me, like when you go to lay out a blanket on the floor and it floats above the ground for a few second after you snap it open.  And then suddenly it was hitting me in the face–this awesome cascade, slapping me upside the head before falling down and rushing back into the lake.

This is where my relationship with the city becomes problematic.  Because look at this picture.  How could you not fall in love with this place?  How could you live here and not have your heart stolen a little bit by the graceful, modest skyline; by the lakeside parks; by the lakeshore itself–all 18.5 miles of it.

After eight months, I have such fond memories of this place.  Biking in the Loop, racing down Wells or meandering along Dearborn.  Pre-dawn biking in Lincoln Park and the Belmont Marina, watching the sun melt across the broken ice laying across the lake.

Biking to Evanston that time.  Biking down Milwaukee to get to the Loop, watching the neighborhoods change and the light kiss the edges of buildings so that they shine when you go streaming past.  Biking to class in the mornings, listening to something quiet and happy and passing the still-sleepy streets.  Yes, a lot of these are about biking.  It’s how I get around.  The El is nice, too.  The Brown Line in the snow, in particular, watching the city slide past, covered in white and reverently hushed with winter.

Would I miss it if I left?  Yes, of course I would.  I would miss studying for fall midterms on the beach, trying to read Kenneth Waltz through the sand and the sun.  I would miss finding new neighborhoods that I never new existed, or suddenly seeing the architectural detail on the corner of a building.

I woud miss running errands here.  Because on a given day I might go up into Boystown for the bookstore, down to the Loop for the library, and around the Magnificent Mile to develop film, and the variety of buildings, plants, streets, and light would be amazing.

I would miss walking around or biking at night, going around and around and around the little streets of Lincoln Park.  I would miss spontaneous walks to the Loop.  I would miss sitting under trains, shouting in joy as they go past, pressing the button of my camera for long stretches to capture the racing light overhead.

I would miss the Loop at night; how quiet it is when it’s such a “large” city.  How deserted the place gets for a metropolis.

But then, I’m not going anywhere.  So I wouldn’t miss anything, because it will all still be here, and I will still be here.  And that’s the problem.

I don’t care how young I am, so shut up if that’s what you were going to say.  You are never too young to be helplessly restless and eternally dissatisfied with where you are.  You are never too young to feel a powerful urge to escape to Somewhere Else.  And I had the great fortune of travelling Europe for a month, so I have tasted blood, so to speak.

Of course, what does that mean?  Do I want to leave?  Do I want to transfer?  Do I wish I hadn’t come here?

No…  No, I don’t think so.  I wish I had gone to a different school, maybe.  But I don’t wish I had never met Chicago.  So travel?  Yes.  Because travel means you can return somewhere, and I can’t think of a greater homecoming than flying into ORD and taking the long, slow journey back along the Blue line into the Loop.  I want to leave, but I want to return.  I want to go to China and come back to Lincoln Park with my roommate and our classes and our friends and swing dancing, and people I quite like.

In the meantime, before China, before Southeast Asia or Istanbul or Budapest or Paris or Ireland or Japan or Chile, I’ll be here, biking around and around this city, further and further each time.  I’ll go to our neighboring cities on weekends and the suburbs just to see.

And before that, I will sit here and I will get back to my homework, since that it is what I’m here for.

Shoes do not deserve this treatment.  Least of all my lovely brogues.  I am sorry, brogues.  It was the lake.  It came at me.

Anyway, this has been a post indeed, with a lot of unnecessary melancholy.  I don’t know what triggered it this time.  It, like the lake, comes seemingly out of nowhere, and is always inevitable somehow.

All right, that’s enough wanderlust (not to be confused with ruinenlust) for one day, don’t you think?

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