There are only so many places in the world you’ll randomly see police cars dotted along a stretch of road, sometimes doing something, most times doing nothing. But that’s rare enough.
Lake Shore Drive is an infamous place. Think of the film “Ferris Bueller,” the scene where they’ve taken Cameron’s dad’s car and are flying down Lake Shore Drive toward the city. It’s a feeling much like that and I get to do it most days, anytime I like and sometimes for no reason at all. It’s full of scattered traffic, slow cars to weave in and out of, faster moving cars to catch up to or to let pass. It’s the only place I’ve ever been passed, and I mean PASSED, while going twenty miles an hour above the speed limit.
It’s curvy and sleek, repaved in parts and rocky in others. You get so much of the city, from Soldier Field on the south end (where it hits I-55, toward Midway airport) to Michigan Ave to the end, to Loyola, to my apartment. You get the beach and the waves, crashing against the cement, crashing up over it, spilling Lake Michigan onto the shore. You get a decorative middle, the trees sometimes maintained by the city. Lights.
Night driving on LSD is my favorite thing. The lights, the open space, the road awaiting you. Simon loves it. For a 4-cylinder, he can accelerate. And accelerate we do. I merge seamlessly, pushing my foot into his gas pedal and we fly. He hugs the curves, especially the last one where the road ends and we have to turn. I fly, never braking and he’s with me. I trust him, knowing when he’s reached his road-gripping limit and I ease up, slowing slightly and throwing my body into the turn. We’re a great team, really.
Emily and I, when we had first moved into the apartment, before school had started that year, used to drive the same loop most nights. We’d throw in some music, usually ABBA (I wish I was joking, but I’m not) to begin and we’d drive past Loyola to turn onto Lake Shore and then head south. We’d pass Michigan Ave, Navy Pier, crossing the river, going along Grant Park to take Michigan back up to Lake Shore and then home. Windows down, arms out the window (it’s a compulsory act, there’s no stopping it), night around us and above us, we’d pass the shops and museums, sliding by buses and around taxis.
Taking in the city when you’re passing through it reminds you why you live here. It reminds you why there’s no greater place to pass through. It’s a cement wonderland, built on industry and fed by sweat and corruption. It glitters in the night, a soft promise of what might be. It’s joyous and freeing, to realize that everything is only transitory. The light of day brings new everything, a fresh feel to a tarnished ideal, but by night everything is stark, illuminated and hidden by the cloaking darkness and the neon signs.
It’s beautiful to me.
I remember the first day. There have been so many first days, but the day that we drove up from St. Louis to Chicago, the car full of crap I now wish I’d never thought I needed and our eyes wide with excitement is the particular first day. The keys to the apartment weren’t quite mine yet, the lease hadn’t been signed. We drove up, stuck in traffic, and were swept up in the feeling that is Chicago. It’s fast paced, relentless, anxious, angry, unethical, illegal, amazing. It is a place I’ve never been before and I place I’ll never stay.
Lake Shore Drive is Chicago for me. It epitomizes everything that could be and is. There is nothing lovelier than a short drive, doing 65 in a 40 and knowing you’re not alone. There is nothing worse than being packed in, red lights ahead of you and all around, edging, no, inching toward your goal.
(Can you tell I did a bunch of driving today?)
I scratched some of the paint off with my keys. I need to get to it, I know, but for some reason I’m hesitant. It’s strange, but I’m comforted by the fact that no one would dare steal Simon, not now. He’s looking so much worse for the wear and I can’t believe it’s only six months until I get to bring him back to Denver and file an insurance claim and get EVERYTHING fixed. He’ll look brand new.
Also, can we do St. Patrick’s Day early while I’m home? I do have a huge pot but for some reason, no one here likes corned beef and cabbage and I’m not going to make it if no one is going to eat it. While plane tickets have not yet been purchased, I’m coming home that Friday (the 5th?) and will be home until the 14th or 15th. So mark your calendars!
March is going to be entirely unproductive academically for me. I’m aware of this. I need to make sure my grades are high so there can be a bit of a buffer for me. Spring break, then that ending weekend and into the next week, Katie will be in Chicago visiting. That Friday night, Maddie and I are going to Boston to party with her aunt and I won’t be back until Tuesday night. Yes, missing school to party. I know. It was cheaper. It’s mediocre rationalizing but I’m sticking with it. It’s going to be amazing. I’ve never been to Boston and when I got the invite, there was no hesitation. Also, Aunt Judy and I are kindred spirits. Here’s to traveling, something I don’t do enough of and hope to spend the rest of my life trying to do.
By the way, I think we were in Haiti at some point. Think about that. To have been there. I will find a journal entry, I’m sure I have one somewhere, that discusses it. Because I think I remember striking poverty and exploitation, but I don’t want to comment on it until I have my information/travel memory correct. I have a caption on a picture that reads “Haiti?” which makes me remember being there.
Also, I want to go back to Jamaica. (That was a completely unrelated thought)