#711: Heaven ‘tween Grand and Washington

November 11th, 2016

Smarter people than me can write your think pieces.

More emotive than me can write about tears.

Less stunned than me can write your rallies and revolution.

I can write right now about disbelief. And how lovely the downtown of Chicago, Illinois, is.

The buildings are nice, all tall and shiny. Although on this big one on the river there are five letters written on the side I can currently only register as sort of a white glowing static and pain.

But that’s not what’s lovely. What’s lovely is the people I see.

Black, brown, tan, shades of all in between. The woman in the hijab yelling at her son at the Jewel on State Street in a language I don’t register but context says it’s for him to stop playing with the Mylar balloons. Little old ladies pushing carts and softly reading off grocery lists in Spanish. The young black man behind the cash register who knows what I mean when I ask how he’s doing and just sighs “It’s going to be a long four years.”

Straight, queer, trans, cis just bumbling about on city streets, not caring so much who someone loves as if they’re slowing down the pace on the sidewalk.

There’s hate and tension here too. Chicago is legendarily segregated, and the momentary hiatus because we all need access to the Loop is no more than that. A hiatus. A break lasting no longer than the time it takes to transfer trains at Clark and Lake.

The Mount Greenwood neighborhood is in turmoil as we speak. But the Loop, dear empty Loop is a mix of bustle, diversity and sad, guilty smiles from my race trying to tell the world we didn’t want to be part of what happened Tuesday.

But whatever the reasons, people smile here, if sadly. And the diversity, the broad smatter of a color chart of faces, a library of creeds and a spectrum of sexualities is real, if only for the moment. It’s transient and it’s beautiful and I love it so much.

What’s filling me with disbelief is not that people don’t love this — tastes vary and I’m not a big fan of a lot of places myself — but what I find beautiful others find hateful.

Someone looked at this nation, this beautiful, broken cacophony and thought we need to fix it, make it a nation of less diversity, less acceptance, less love.

How can people hear Trump’s apocalyptic vision of “taco trucks on every corner” and not think “Oh boy, tacos!”?

How can people watch two men kiss and not say either “Aww” or “Get a room, guys, you’re blocking the sidewalk”?

How can people listen to a crowd of a dozen languages spoken at once and not hear music?

I don’t know. While others write tears, blame and revolution, I’ll just take a moment to disbelieve how many of my race looked at this beautiful, transient heaven of faces and saw the worst sort of hell there is.

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You are currently reading #711: Heaven ‘tween Grand and Washington by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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