There are some nights when I'm driving back into the city from here or there that just take my breath away. Last night was no exception.
One second you're mundanely checking your text messages and then the feeling just hits you. How beautiful this city is with it's hulking, neon-luminous skyline, the twinkling lights of the Sears Tower hiding amidst the swirling clouds of spring. Errant jazz music creeps out onto Lake Shore Drive from somewhere in Millennium Park and right there, right then it is the perfect sound for the moment. The city is both breathtaking and stoic, a meadow of steel and brick. It’s no extraordinary day by any means, but my breath catches for a moment in the back of my throat. I have found an old flame to love again.
There is a certain sanctity to driving alone in a dark car, the lights of a city you have known all your life, intimately reflecting in your windshield. Bars of light flash across your face in the rearview mirror as you pass each street light along the way. The street signs follow above to the crash of cymbals or the deep rolling dum, dum, dum of the bass. Ashland. Lincoln. Sheffield. Halsted. Faster with the crescendo of the music. Even the gaudy blinking signs of liquor stores and gyros joints are beautiful, blurring by one after another, streaking my car window with colorful ambient light.
Chicago is a lonely city. Unlike other cities, there are still places you can discover that have been virtually untouched; still spaces that the warmth of bodies has yet to fill. At night, the city dims and sighs, heaving people into its streets. The skyline becomes alive with dancing lights. From above, it is a firefly ballet, soft and intricate. The stone and mortar of day are less intimidating bathed in moonlight and the city becomes suddenly comfortable and welcoming. The side streets are checkered with shadowed and lit squares; the electric light from inside houses mingling with the light of stars. The earth under the paved drives and piers has a history. You can feel that There is energy in that.
And all at once that feeling I had as a little girl, the one that lays dormant somewhere inside me, along with all the wonder and imagination and belief that anything is possible, resurfaces.
On nights like these, it's hard not to feel happy.