Time is running out. I need to be at O’Hare International Airport in under ninety minutes. To go that far west, I should first head south toward the Loop and then take the Blue Line. Everything is a blur—, the studio walls, the commotion outside, the last twenty-some years. Everything blurs by.
Michigan Avenue is one long, concrete-runway. It reaches the sunset and then some. Police are posted at most corners, beggars escape the wind within random alcoves, and tourists slow down foot-traffic while trying to take the perfect picture. Still—, it’s the epitome of style. Not just because everything is so designer and so glamorous and so chic—, but because it’s what keeps us coming back. The shine, the next step, the possibility that one day we too can say “we made it.” Couples exit expensive restaurants and reach for each other’s arms, interlocking them as they set off down the street toward a taxicab or café. Either way, it’s a charming sight and one that invites us to see ourselves in that exact position.
We keep moving.
I hear the announcer say that the Michigan & Lake stop is coming up so I pull the cord, stand up, and ready myself to walk toward the Washington station. Once there, I board the Blue Line and sit in the first open seat I see. The speeding train interweaves through the clusters of structures like a massive steel thread. If only I could reach out beyond the sealed windows, my fingertips would be able to graze the bricks themselves.
Everything I’d learned from books and movies was reduced down to mere reference points when I finally moved out into the city. Nothing prepares you for the real world like stepping out into the real world. Of course it can be beautiful. Of course the sunshine beaming off of the stage at Millennium Park is perfect. But it can also be cold. The winters are rough. Ice and sleet cover the streets and everything is grey. Not a pure white with freshly fallen snow, no. It’s marred from the tar off the wheels that run themselves over the slush and dirt of an urban landscape. But even then—, something beautiful can be found within it. Something compelling. Like the city is irresistible even in mid-January, even with the dreariness of unforeseeable blizzards, because after all, it is home. It’s where you sleep and shower and see how far you can go without feeling like you’ve been left behind to fend for yourself, since here, everyone fends for themselves.
Time keeps ticking.
The rooftops drift by in the late afternoon sun. The ones right past the fiberglass, quickly. The ones way behind in the background, slowly. Either way, they all drift by into the recesses of our memories and only reappear once we pass through again. Coded languages are graffitied onto the stairwells of large complexes and ciphers onto the sides of small apartment buildings. They speak of some type of spiritual revolution while prayer flags are strewn through the streets—, fallen and forgotten. I don’t pretend to understand, I just accept it.
I begin to think back to yesterday. The scene floods in like waves of scorching sunlight; thick fumes drift up and through the atmosphere as we take our seats, speak in pieces of broken slang, and seek peace itself. This is nighttime—, personified in two people. Stars sparkle in our eyes. The Windy City’s air courses through our veins and makes its way up toward our brains as the name stays on the very tips of our tongues;
“Chi…ca…go…,” she says with such elegance.
We keep moving. Time keeps ticking. The world keeps blurring by.