“I was thinking we would put you in here,” she said as we walked to a conference room on the 55th floor. “We’ve got this view, and-”
“Wow,” I said, stopping for a moment to gawk at the view. Lake, sky, clouds, boats, a few workers on top of the nearby Marina City. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, it was bright and vivid. Stunning.
The woman smiled kindly at me and started naming beverages.
“Coffee’s fine,” I mumbled, still staring at that incredible view.
Because of certain bad mistakes made in my past (grad school), I have to take on as much work as I can to stay ahead of the economic game. This means a full-time job, part-time teaching at a local college and occasional freelance work for a trade publication where I used to work.
I won’t name names, but the trade it covers takes me to buildings like this one, beautiful luxury skyscrapers made of glass and steel and pure, unadulterated view.
From these buildings, the lake becomes a pristine blue horizon rather than a slightly funky freshwater that maybe you shouldn’t go swimming in.
From these buildings, the streets look sparkling and kempt. You can’t see litter from 55 stories in the air.
From these buildings, tiny people meander aimlessly but happily, as clean and featureless as Lego men.
From these buildings, from this height and distance, the world looks beautiful, like a child’s drawing down to the crayon-blue sky, fluffy clouds and M-shaped seagulls coasting in the background.
It’s stunning. The Wrigley Building. Marina City. Sears. The unfortunately tramp-stamped Trump building. Mies, Louis, Frank Lloyd. Terra cotta next to glass next to steel next to tiny little brick architectural nothing that still made its way into the skyline, like the kid you can’t remember from the class picture but who apparently did go to grade school with you.
Bars, hotels, stores, office towers like this one with other glassed-in conference rooms where other people sipping end-of-the-pot coffee stare out at you.
Beyond that, a bike path sandwiched between thin lines of green. Beyond that, endless blue.
A gust of wind. A plane. Police sirens. These were the only sounds that made it to that window and the conference room and the coffee.
What do the people who work in these towers, who spend their days so far above that the little uglinesses seem beautiful, what do they think the world is? A beautiful place, with only the far-off wail of a police siren to say “Here there be dragons.”