Monday, September 5, 2011
I’m not born nor bred Chicago, but I’ve spent more time here than any other place I’ve ever lived so I consider myself a Chicagoan. Chicago is a beautiful city. So much like a beautiful woman who gets under your skin and deep in your blood, you love her one minute, then you hate her. You're not sure of a lot of things, but you know you just can’t live without her.
In Spring, she is hope incipient, all the wistfulness that you hoard in winter’s dread seem to come true with the first shy buds of magnolia trees start popping out. The lazy drip of melting snow from in the gangway between the houses and the apartments, remind you, summer is coming.
Then one day, Summer is here, brandishing bravura like a shiny, slick, flirt’s smile you can’t deny. She is emboldened and sweet, seductive and irresistible. Summer in Chicago has to be experienced to be believed. The street fairs, the city festivals, the jazz/food/lalapalooza heady times in the lake front, all remind you that this city teems with 3 million people.
Then suddenly, always too soon, Summer flees. Like the girl who, after the shock of being kissed for the first time in her life, abruptly turns around and runs away, leaving behind a confused suitor who wanted her to linger and yearned for just one more perfect kiss.
Fall arrives without warning, her smile bright and gorgeous over a deepening blue sky and proud, vast clouds. But she brings with her a peckish breeze to remind you that she will easily turn a weary cold eye upon anything she finds displeasing.
Then one day Fall starts to darken and brood, expectant and forbidding and one morning you know, Winter has arrived. You wake up as she throws on a mantle of snow; she is quiet, demure and has that dangerous beauty that hides black ice, wind chills and snow drifts. But she’s beautiful to look at and you love her first snow, then you hate as she turns into blackened mounds accumulating detritus on the streets.
Labor Day is supposed to be a commemoration of the everyday working man, yet in Chicago it is always the turning point when Fall stares down Summer and Summer begins to fade. We pack away our shorts and our t-shirts and wait for next year.