Saturday, July 31, 2010

for keeps and a single day

Fell in love with Chicago this past week. I'm imagining it's in the way that you can fall in love with someone you've been married to for a bit, on an unremarkable afternoon, when you glance up from your newspaper and see them pressing a pen against their mouth, their eyes narrowed in concentration as they attempt to remember what to add to the grocery list. And there's something about the way the sunlight is slanting through the dirty window and across their face, and BAM, that's it, that's all it is and all you want for the foreseeable future.


More concretely, I'm betting that this feeling has a lot to do with the amount of time I've been spending traveling around on my bike. Now that I'm living closer to my office and the center of the city and approximately 1 billion stores and restaurants, the radius in which I have to travel has shrunk to a much more human scale. So I can avoid the CTA (!) and instead fly around on my glorious scratched-up steel frame Schwinn, narrowly avoiding death by car door and UPS truck at least 3 times a day. And my commute to work take me straight through Finkl Steel, which makes my little industrial/mechanical-loving heart so happy at the beginning and end of every day.

More to come! (as always), about loving this big brutal beautiful powerful sprawling city. But until then I'll leave you with this Sufjan song that I hadn't listened to in so long. I do believe I in fact blogged about it ~5 years ago, the last time its forward momentum made me feel exhilarated in the same way. (Does city love work like people love, in cycles? Let's debate.)

Between the curved steel of the El and the nearest Clark Street hockshop, between the penny arcade and the shooting gallery, between the basement ginmill and the biggest juke in Bronzeville, the prairie is caught for keeps at last. Yet on nights when the blood-red neon of the tavern legends tether the arc-lamps to all the puddles left from last night's rain, somewhere between the bright carnival of the boulevards and the dark girders of the El, ever so far and ever so faintly between the still grasses and the moving waters, clear as a cat's cry on a midnight wind, the Pottawattomies mourn in the river reeds once more.

The Pottatwattomies were much too square. They left nothing behind but their dirty river.

While we shall leave, for remembrance, one rusty iron heart.

The city's rusty heart, that holds both the hustler and the square.

Takes them both and holds them there.

For keeps and a single day.


—Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make

2 comments:

sammyp said...

well dayam now i just wish i was back right now dont i

Liz said...

beautiful poem. i miss chitown!

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