#603: In the Snow

March 4th, 2016

Chicago’s at its best in the snow.

It’s cold and damp and miserable, “dibs” is childish and there’s nothing like a Chicago winter to make you feel the world is dreariness punctuated with mid-July.

But it’s pretty. The little flutter flakes cascading around warm me as they chill my skin.

And the people in the snow are wonderful.

Sad-eyed shuffling zombies, yes, but kindly ones.

Or if not kindly, considerate.

Or if not considerate, docile enough to be civil.

This brash, rude, snarky city I love gets taken down a peg. We shuffle on trains sullenly, waiting in silence for our day to begin. Some read off phones, stare out windows or take quick, sneaking looks around to play a quick game of “I wonder what they’re thinking?”

We recoil from each other in a way that gives a moment’s peace in a normally jostling town. A touch of toe on the train means both the woman’s and my feet pull back. A separate woman gets a bit of breathing room on her inward-facing Red Line seat because none of the men surrounding it want to be seen taking a spot meant for a lady.

Next to me a woman with a bun on top of her head and a hint of faux ‘50s catseye eyeshadow reads a book called “The Lovers” on her phone. She’s on a section about the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Maybe it’s me taking advantage of other’s grimness, reveling in the peace and quiet of a communal cold shoulder I’m too stubborn to get in on.

Or maybe it’s an unspoken compromise, a groupthink where we each, separately and for our own reasons, decide a quiet morning commute is best for all.

The cars trundle down frosty rails, skittering sparks below. Outside, amid pretty flutter flakes sprinkling from the sky, a few huddled walkers start their own days.

And on a train car of sad, happy, annoyed, chipper, sulky, soothed but most of all silent commuters, a glorious bit of quiet pealed like a bell.

Chicago’s at its best in the snow.

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