When I first moved to Illinois, I would visit you occasionally, pay lots and lots of dollars to park my car, catch a glimpse of your shimmery dark blue lake, shop on Michigan Avenue, eat dinner on Rush. We flirted from a distance, you and me. I pretended to know you. But I did not know you. You remained something of a puzzle to me, the insides of so many color-coded parking garages, the glimmery storefronts. Without the Sears Tower in my view I never knew which direction I was going.
But today while I was walking the not-very-scenic two miles down Chicago Ave from the Newberry to my salon, past the Tribune building (really, what westerly route doesn't take you past the Tribune building? That thing is a monster), across the terrifying draw bridge and then (later, on Ogden) the vertiginous interstate overpass, past a shrill and rather uninventive shouting match at a bus stop--"you a punkass bitch!" "no, YOU a punkass bitch!"--I began to realize that seven + years later, I know you so much better. And now, having eaten my way through the entire menu at the Chicago Diner, having gotten lost on foot and on bike in your north and midsections, and having learned the crucial lesson to avoid Michigan avenue altogether, I have finally pieced you together in all your complexity, and I can say with all sincerity that I love you.