I was woken to the chirping of those little feathered flying tree-mice things whose name escapes me because it’s been so long.
There’s an itch in the air in Chicago.
It’s not the full-on fever of spring, just an itch on the skin, a tickle on the back of the throat. There’s just enough sunlight and just enough open coats to remind you spring is coming.
A hint of a breeze. A hint of cleavage. The momentary chirp of a tree-mouse seconds before a wailing siren Doppler-blares it away.
To be clear, it is not spring, neither in calendar nor mood. The grass is not green, there’s ice on the lake and the only thing a young man’s fancy lightly turns to is thoughts of why the CTA smells like no one cleaned the gerbil cage.
But there’s that itch. It’s an annoyance, a pain. Everything’s just nice enough, just warm enough, just teasing and pleasant enough to create the desire — but not the ability — to run madcap through fields of daisies.
“Skip work!” the itch screams. “Go to the park! Empty your roommate’s bank account and see if all your friends want to move to Peru!”
But skipping work would get you fired. Everything at the park would be spongey and damp. And your roommate has about as little to his name as you do.
Peru’s really far.
Downtown feels the itch too. The beggars stand to shake their cups. Office workers take endless trips between desk and coffee shops, lanyards jangling through open coats.
The hotels look more inviting in the sun. The Divvy bikes look more reasonable. The liquor store and 24-hour bar with the entirely empty block of vacant apartments with blacked-out windows above it looks-
No, that place is still terrifying. It’s full of moldy bags of uncounted votes for Harold Washington, I’m convinced.
Spring isn’t springing yet. We’re just alerted to it a little early, like waking up with a start five minutes before the alarm is set to go.
It will be warm someday, I guess. And based on the weather-based fatalism every Midwesterner north of St. Louis cultivates, I’m sure we’ll dip below freezing a few days in between.
But for right now, the sun’s kinda sorta shining, downtown’s nice-ish and the songs of tree-mice fill the pre-spring air.