A ruddy faced man with gleaming eyes and a glossy Irish Setter heeling by his side rounded the bend towards me. I’d gotten turned around on a walk in Kenilworth on my way to downtown Wilmette. The streets were designed to keep outsiders out— not easy thoroughfares. A man kindly stopped and offered me directions. “Just take this street to a wall with two doors in it.”
I collect quotes of the day— sentences I repeat in my head or aloud to myself that conjure up fun images. or otherwise bring me delight — and this one was it.
“A wall with two doors.” My life, once again, is a French movie. (An artistic ex used to remind me that all we have to do is choose to see the world through the eyes of Amelie or another acteur dans un film d'art et d'essai if we want to soak up the deliciousness). As I moved on, I smiled and gazed up at the stark bare trees on this glorious winter day. I was hoping to see an eagle, or a hawk at least. I settled for a giant crow, cawing majestically from the very top of an impressively aged elm.
I headed in the direction apple cheeks pointed me to, and found myself on 10th Street. I turned right to head the mile or so to my destination. A couple walking a graying black lab named Fiona cautioned me that the sidewalk was icy. I wanted to walk in the street but feared the wrath of drivers. I’d chance the messy sidewalk. I yielded to a man wearing black Adidas sneakers with crisp white stripes. As he passed me I warned him about the ice ahead.
I stayed a virus cautious 20 feet or so behind him. Sure enough, he misjudged the situation and I watched him tumble into a hard fall, his arms flailing about and his messenger bag flying into the snow. The first thing he did was look back at me from his flat on the back position— I’m not sure if it was out of embarrassment or camaraderie. The two of us just trying to get some exercise in the dead of a Chicago Winter. I called out “are you ok?” and he said “yes!” He got up and brushed himself off. I suggested that we retire to the street, drivers be darned. He agreed. Again I gave him about 20 feet of space and we walked single file towards Central Avenue.
At the end of the trek we chatted a bit. He thanked me for my support and the warning that he had not heeded. I reminded him to take some ibuprofen as soon as possible, for I knew he’d be bruised and in some pain when the adrenaline wore off. I had wiped out on the roof of Mariano’s myself just a couple weeks ago, and again when I forgot that Yaktrax are not ideal for a dark foyer with concrete floors. These little coils that slip over your shoes work great on the ice, and I highly recommend them, but please be careful on surfaces other than snow, ice, or nubby concrete when you have them on.
Adidas and I parted ways. I passed an old wood-framed house with a porch that’s made for sitting. I passed the bell that was originally rung to gather Wilmette residents to the town square many moons ago, and the Lutheran church with the banner reading “Black Lives Matter to God and to Us.”
I stepped into Torino and ordered a citrusy ramen to go — double masked of course— then I headed to Central Station Coffee & Tea. I left there with an oat milk latte with their homemade raspberry syrup. Small paper shopping bag of noodle soup in one hand, coffee cup in the other, I gingerly made my way back to my new rental home a mile and a half west.
A mere two weeks ago I was miserable and sleep deprived since loud neighbors had moved in on December 1st. The stress of it all put a damper on my holidays, my career, and my well-being. Today I sleep in a place so quiet I can easily forget anyone else is around at all.
Three weeks ago a neighbor was carjacked in her alley in my old neighborhood of Ravenswood after dropping her child off at school. A woman was carjacked on the 5100 block of North Broadway three weeks ago today. She had just gotten her car back from her last carjacking the previous Wednesday. I am very concerned for her. I had to stop reading a local neighborhood group’s Facebook posts since the outrageous number of shootings less than two miles from where I was living, on a weekly basis, were impossible to digest.
A savvy friend commented “I knew you’d end up in the suburbs” because I was so craving a quiet home to live, rest, and work in. If I am to show up for my burgeoning caseload of clients I have to have peace and safety myself. I sincerely wish everyone on this planet could have the same.
Just before I moved, a neighbor snapped a photo of an eagle in a tree near Wilson and the river. There is beauty and delight around every corner for all of us, but only some of us have the good fortune to be able to enjoy the wonders of this world. For others, life is a daily exercise in survival.