Friday, May 6, 2011

Big City Blues

Lest either reader think that my previous post is evidence that I am angry or depressed, you may be assured that I am merely exorcising some demon words from my hand written journal of late.  It's the sort of thing you have to put up with, as does the other Reader.  By way of explanation, sometimes, it seems to help when I transform the ink into pixels.  But like the rest of this endeavor, it is essentially a self-centered exercise, so my advice is to simply skip it and read on.

More immediate in my consciousness is my recent trip to Chicago.  This week, I went to Holland, Michigan to visit Billie and John.  My path led me through the Windy City once again.  I have to say I never tire of it.

Granted, I haven't really seen Chicago in 'full-on' winter, at least not for the months of biting and bitter cold.  That small fact aside,  I have to say that every time I go downtown, I am exhilarated by the experience.  The energy and intensity of the city is apparent even on a deserted Sunday afternoon, but on a 'regular' weekday afternoon, it reaches a level that I find powerful, exciting and almost addicting.

This is how I found myself thinking about what it would be like to live there once again, as I was riding the 'L' as it carves through the concrete and steel canyons.  While they resemble those of New York or San Francisco, these spaces are different.  They have a character and feeling all their own.  Where New York can be gritty and oppressive, and San Francisco can be narrow and confining, Chicago is open and liberating.  It is welcoming in a way that is uniquely midwestern and yet it is a genuine 'big' city.

My imagination runs riot as I ride.  How thrilling it would be to live somewhere where there is not one or two but many museums, each with it's own special show (or two) each year!  I think of all the restaurants there are to discover.  How many parks are to be explored, how many interesting people are to be uncovered?

It's not as if we live in some cultural and physical backwater here in Austin.  Well, so we would like to think.  Alas, in spite of our big-city dreams, this town is just that: a town.  Dallas and Houston, bless 'em, are no better.  They may have the large populations required to define them as a city, and even some of the accoutrements of the same--an orchestra, a ballet and a museum (or two)--but it's just not the same as a 'real' big city.

Someday, health and my Bride permitting, I resolve to live for a year in Chicago, or near enough (like Holland) that we could visit it regularly.  Now, whether or not I can take a true winter remains to be seen, but I think I could.  It would be nice to give it a go someday.

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