Cal’s Liquors, at 400 S. Wells, has been closed for many months. I’ve been waiting with trepidation to see whether this old, iconic, one-story building would be demolished. More
The hat shop is closed.
Inside, the hats are still waiting to be purchased. They float, eerily suggesting the heads they are meant to fit. They cluster like moths against the glass waiting for the right men.
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.
I admire the old businesses that just keep going. This sewing-machine store in Wicker Park was probably discovered by the young, do-it-yourself crowd just in time.
We write a lot about the dynamism of cities but less about the things in them that do not change. The hoary businesses that go undusted for decades; the narrow buildings that are home to the same people for generations, that own their inhabitants from cradle to grave. The old wooden doors locked and unlocked at the same time each day.
Forget the gooey romanticism of Valentine’s Day. Peer into a night-time shop window crowded with love-laced commodity. Is this the look of love? Are relationships implied? Is the sex good? A brilliant holiday homage that’s touching, creepy, and funny all at the same time.
On a rainy night, a red-haired mannequin awakens behind glass, intent on something beyond her current condition. An object among objects, she stretches, seemingly unmindful of her own resplendence.
At last some snow has fallen in the city. It was brief, but, while it fell, it fell fiercely. I always look forward to snow, because it muffles the clamor of the city, bringing a degree of peace by slowing it down. Riding the bus along Michigan Avenue was more enjoyable than usual, because the snow jazzed up the ordinary views.
Though the snow was falling heavily as we passed Millennium Park, by the time I reached my destination, it had stopped. I’m so glad I happened to be outside to see it. Who knows whether we’ll get any more snow this season?