Friday, July 6, 2018


I lived here for nearly 20 years.  I quickly learned my way around, because Chicago makes it easy.  It’s a grid, moving out evenly from State and Madison, block by block, the numbers going up by one hundred at each intersection.

Even I,  directionally challenged, never got lost.

Today,  Not Kathy picked me up at Midway Airport.  None of the roads were familiar, though they should have been.  The surface street leading to the highway has a Starbucks now, where before it was lined with abandoned storefronts.  There are overpasses and underpasses where there were vacant lots.  There’s a Jane Byrne interchange, funneling vehicles to the right and then up and down on their way to connecting interstates.  All of this new.

They rerouted Lake Shore Drive years ago, creating grass and more lanes and a fence where the secret parking lot for the Field Museum used to be.  The Cuters and I were very good at racing across The Drive on our way to see the T-Rex and the Native American weaponry and the special exhibits on the upper floors, reached by climbing one of the world’s great staircases.  This afternoon, waiting for the traffic to inch by, I admired the landscaping and the fencing and sighed.  The Museum used to be free.  Today it would cost $38 for one adult to pass through the front door.

Not all change is good.

We drove past the spot where Meigs Field used to be.  Before it was bulldozed one night, Big Cuter and I used to spend lovely afternoons watching the planes take off and land.  Now it has prairie grasses and passes itself off as an urban oasis.

A space ship has landed on SoldierField.  Tall buildings are going up in neighborhoods that had been avoided like the plague.  But sitting on their couch, typing while Not Kathy and Dr K are reading on the other couch,  Chicago still feels like home.

I became a grown up here. I practiced my profession, was a new bride and a new mother, bought a home - Chicago pushed me into adulthood with its big shoulders at my back.  Tonight, as we eat taramosalata and saganaki at Greek Islands, I’ll try to recapture some of that past.

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