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Comfort zones

I woke up to realize that my cell phone was missing.  It had slipped out of my pocket during my commute.  Miraculously, it turned up in the lost-and-found of a bus terminal at Jackson and Kedzie.  My husband agreed to go out there with me to pick it up.

Westbound from Congress, © 2013 Celia Her City

We drove out the Eisenhower to a very poor part of Chicago’s west side. This is a decrepit neighborhood, with people drifting across the streets, sitting around in front of their homes in the middle of the day doing nothing, or approaching passing cars asking for money.  Their state is a reproof to love and liberality.

I didn’t take any photographs, being preoccupied with directing my husband to the right place, and because taking pictures of the neighborhood from the safety of my car would have been touristy.

The weather was heavy.

At the enormous bus terminal, which we found without difficulty, normalcy reigned.  I retrieved my phone gratefully, eager to leave a place I didn’t belong.

Clouds gathering over Chicago, © 2013 Celia Her City

The familiarity of the skyline was comforting.  Heading to Ina’s for lunch, no sooner had we gotten on the Eisenhower than we got off.

Green green-line station, © 2013 Celia Her City

Rain began falling, the heavens opening as we drove up Ashland.  Stopped at a red, I took a picture of an unusual el station.  I liked the color, and it interested me as a style and intellectually.  It seemed almost Swiss, certainly ethnic in some way, a throwback to an earlier time.  What was its story?

Under the el, © 2013 Celia Her City

Under the el, the wipers worked hard, rain spattering loudly.  Trains rumbled on top of that, super-blasts of noise.

Downspout, © 2013 Celia Her city

When we reached the restaurant, it was raining too hard to get out of the car.  We sat there watching a downspout, raindrops falling on puddles, until the cloudburst dwindled.

I wanted to take photographs inside the restaurant but didn’t. Using a camera or cell phone at the table is pretty rude.

Forces natural and man-made, © 2013 Celia Her City

Photographs carved from comfort zones are my specialty.

Home, where the strange is familiar

Pink haired woman with argyle leggings and pink sneakers walking past a long neglected storefront on a North Clark Street, Chicago

Yes, I’m home, back in the city.  After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, I’m up writing my post in a way that’s customary: propped up in the bed in our spare bedroom, drinking my morning coffee.  I do my best work in the early morning, before starting my day.  I swear I could produce a masterpiece in my bathrobe.  Luckily Mr C sleeps late, which gives me lots of time to compose.

What does “home” mean to residents of a big city?  Driving around the Twin Cities got me thinking about how cities differ, and how I’ve come to think of Chicago as ‘my city.’  Born elsewhere, I came to Chicago in adulthood.  My decision to stay here and make this my home was one I made deliberately.  Beyond my domicile and a network of personal and professional relationships that sustains me, lies a vast population and universe that will always be strange.  Knowing it–and loving it–could take an eternity, especially if you’re a female cat like me.

I chip away at its strangeness, recently with photography and with blogging.  With each post and image, the swath of association and meaning broadens.  The city may never cease to be strange, but its strangeness is now familiar to me.  A pink-haired lady with Fair Isle tights?  She’s my fellow-wayfarer, setting forth with faux-leopardskin pack and pink-sneakered stride.

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