Thursday, October 10, 2013

first stop: Chicago

I've lived in the deep country of post-war Poland. I've lived in arguably the most concentrated bit of metropolis on this continent, if not beyond (New York). And now, of course, I live in a farmhouse, not too close to anything at all that you would call an urban center. So you would think I can span the spectrum and feel at ease anywhere at all (let's exclude the wilderness; I've never lived in anything that you could even remotely call wilderness).  But it's not so. A person can get used to pretty much anything. And conversely, you can get unused to something equally fast.

I am surprised how unused to the city I am. How impatient I become with stalls, delays, congestion. How pushy I feel I have to be to survive. How terribly hurried I, too, become -- as if there was the need to get there fast. As if I have to pick up my pace to catch the light because -- God forbid -- I may otherwise have to wait for it to change again.

Chicago is a favorite city destination for me. I love it because I associate it with beautiful moments with my daughter and now her fiance. It's always a happy time to pause here, to have a meal, which, too, is terrific. Always.

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But getting from the farmhouse to the place where we, the three of us, finally meet up for lunch is a process and every leg takes a bit of patience. If I lost it over the years of a slower pace, I am relearning it now as I hurry to catch the bus, hurry to catch the "L" train, hurry the final blocks until I am there, across the table, seeing their bright and happy faces, picking up on that happiness once more, letting those precious minutes sink in...

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Fleeting, maybe that, but heavenly.

And then I rush to the "L" and get clogged in the lines that are a part of the O'Hare airport experience, trying hard not to be pushy, trying hard to hold back until I am through all that congestion, sitting now at the gate, waiting for my flight to Paris and then to Dublin to be called.

You teach yourself to adapt when you leave the safe harbor of home. And that, for me, is a good thing.