Saturday, March 04, 2006

paradigm shift (warning, navel gazing to ensue)

Chicago is a fabulous city.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. (Mahk, that includes you.) My city is metropolitan yet accessible, diverse, huge, proud, friendly and beautiful, among other things.

As I am adjusting to my recent paradigm shift, I am slowly putting together my perspective, fitting in bits and pieces to make a landscape of the last couple of years, lending to a deeper understanding of, well, me. And what influences me and such.

First, let me back up and say, freelancing for my old agency is incredibly comforting. I liken this career move to moving back in to my parent's basement. It's safe and comfortable, I come and go as I please, and they feed me and do my laundry. Metaphorically, that is. From this safe place I can focus energies on figuring some things out.

One thing: I missed working downtown. We've already covered that in some ways, in a sort of giddy "yeah! that too!" sort of way. But I'm only now realizing that what Melrose Mark said was true. I was losing my edge, in a weird sort of way.

Chicago is a city that has a clear central location for commerce -- our entire public transportation system is based on this. The El is a wheel with spokes that radiate from downtown (well, to the West. To the East it is only lake). This physical setup dictates a lot of how we young urban professionals view our lives -- downtown bars are for post-work, lunchtime is for shopping, life is car-free, a little difficult but a lot fun.

When I no longer rode a train every day I missed out on so much -- speculation about the secrets of other passengers, the dank tunnel between the red and blue lines at Washington where homeless men sit splayed-legged, surrounded by scattered litter and suspicious piles of unidentified dirt. I missed the street performers, the sharp-dressed urbanites, the movies and cocktail gatherings and shop windows. I missed seeing my friends at lunchtime, I missed being in the thick of it.

All that was replaced by traffic and suburban sprawl and stodgy midwestern corporate culture.

I missed my city. I missed getting to see the evening light bathing the sides of buildings as I walk to the train, I missed listening to music as I walked and walked and pretended, in my own mind, to be in a music video. (Don't tell anyone I told you that.)

My city, the experience of it, is like a long-lost friend. How did I let us get out of touch? I promise not to let it happen again. Pinkie swear.

No comments: