Friday, February 16, 2018

Looking Out the Window

The snow was beginning to melt when I left Chicago. The sidewalks were clear, but there was still mush you had to get through when you crossed the street. I use a car service to go to the airport and as I was going to get in, I was surprised to see a  big brownish rabbit  on the curb a few feet from me. We made eye contact and I said hello to it. And after a momentary pause, it hopped up the sidewalk and I got in the car, well actually a huge SUV.

The great thing about SUV’s is the wonderful line of sight they offer and I love to look out the window. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the same route, I still like to see it. Lake Michigan has many moods and yesterday, it was frozen and quiet looking. I was surprised to see how far the ice went out. The slightly warmer weather had brought out a few joggers and dog walkers in the strip of open land that runs between Lake Shore Drive and the lake.

We got off Lake Shore Drive and took the Stevenson Expressway to the Dan Ryan. I know the expressways are mostly known by their numbers now, but I like the names better. We had to pass McCormick Place which is really a convention center. I like to remember trade shows I went to there as a kid, but mostly I think of the year I went to BookExpo America and the program that explained all the steps a manuscript took as it became a book.  I wasn’t published then and it seemed like a distant dream. And now I have seventeen books out in the world and two more on the way.

At rush hour, the Dan Ryan is slow moving as if it is on some kind of somber processional. No problem for me. It gave me more chance to catch my surroundings. There are no sound walls to hide the view of the interesting mix of industrial and residential. We passed the train tracks heading west and the south branch of the Chicago River. There is a cement company with red and white striped trucks lined up next to the white towers that must hold the mixings for what goes in the trucks.

As the tall buildings of downtown came into sight, closer to the road there were streets of old style houses. They are narrow, stark looking with two stories. I read about the style once. I believe they can be built quickly and the stye was used to rebuild after the Chicago fire. There was no sign of the residents as we went by, but I wondered about them and what it was like living on a street caught between the high powered world of downtown and the industrial world of the cement company and the carpenters’ union building.

Somewhere the Dan Ryan ended and we were on the Kennedy, though still creeping as traffic from all the business downtown came down the ramps to join us. The road makes a turn and starts going northwest and we left the skyscrapers behind. There is so much to look at. Ornate churches, the Mercedes Dealership with several floors of cars. It seems to odd to have cars on the second floor, but I ‘m sure they have big elevators or something to get them up there.

Commuter trains rumbled along the side of expressway, moving faster than we were. There are tracks down the middle of the expressway for the El, short for elevated train. I got a great view of people waiting on the platform for the train. I wondered about them. What is their life story? Where were they going?

The expressway cuts through neighborhoods that were there before the roadway was built. Streets on an angle abruptly end. The dark brown brick apartment buildings that once probably looked out on a tree lined street, now have a view of a wide river of traffic.


When a group of tall buildings come into view, I know we’re near the airport and my ride is almost over. And then after I arrived and did all the check in and security stuff, it turned out my flight was delayed for an hour and half due to no pilot or flight crew.

All that hanging around gave me a chance to check out my fellow passengers which is always interesting. When we finally boarded, I discovered the light over my seat doesn’t work and it was a night flight which meant they would turn off all the lights. But all was not lost. The thirty-something guy sitting next to me repositioned the light over his seat, so it kind of illuminated my space. It’s enough that I was able to read my People magazine if I held it a certain way and even do the crossword puzzle.

The wind was blowing as we lowered into the L.A. Basin and the plane bounced around, but then we were on the ground.

In a surprising circle of events, there was a rabbit in the middle of the street just before our driveway.


Linda Osborn said...

Terrific descriptive writing. I can visualize the scenes as you go along, though I only passed through the Chicago airport once, years ago !

Betty Hechtman said...

Thanks, Linda. I never get tired of watching the world go by.

Linda O. Johnston said...

How fun that you saw rabbits in both locations! And thanks for the wonderful tour of Chicago that you gave us.

Miriam Lubet said...

I loved reading your article. It is so well written and easy to visualize based on my few visits to Chicago. I love how you wonder about people and their life stories. I do the same thing. I try to figure it out and sometimes when I can hear their conversations I get more clues.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda O. Johnston, I thought it was pretty heat about the rabbits, too

Betty Hechtman said...

Miriam, I'm with you. I find it interesting to overhear people's conversations and see what I can figure from it. I also do that at the grocery store - trying to figure out things about them from what they're buying.