I travelled the vast, (remarkably flat) expanse of northern Indiana and crossed into the unknown of Illinois. I'd never been to Chicago or seen it even from a distance. When I did though, I looked like a little kid, bouncing around in the back of the school van, leaning over people in the annoying way everybody hates but I did it anyway because I wanted to see EVERYTHING that I could and commit it to memory. Little did I know that later I would change my mind about that.
By now the other interns will have regaled to our readers the awesome places we ate and all the different ways we managed to spend money, even though we tried not to....or at least I did. So I'll tell you about my personal experience, and hope that I do not offend or seem as small-town as I most probably am.
We entered city limits after six hours of the close, confined quarters of the van and everybody perked up and stared out the windows. I got stuck in the middle; in hindsight I should have aimed for a window seat. I was stunned by the fantastic view of the Chicago skyline rearing up before me. I stared, trying to make it seem real to me and not just another image from a movie. Movies had made this city seem familiar to me, yet it was utterly foreign.
We pulled up to our hotel and I got out and stared-straight up- there was no other direction my eyes could go. Everything was up! My eyes were used to staring out at the open fields and valleys of the South, and here the scope was more narrow, like I was looking through a rectangular tunnel towards the sky. The "L" train terrified me the first time it roared past. I squealed, but luckily no one heard me over the noise. I realized quickly that the intersections were deathtraps, the people were not exactly 'friendly conversationalists', and that I had to adapt quickly lest I be eaten for breakfast at one of the many corner bakeries.
I did, surprisingly, adapt to the pace quickly enough. Or maybe it just pulled me along. Either way, I went. I wasn't afraid to go out at night by myself and find something sweet to eat when the urge struck. I had only to cross the street anyhow. Everything was right there. Maybe there was danger and I was oblivious. I would not doubt that. There were so many windows peeking out at me as I walked through the streets. In my mind I knew that not every window had a happy scene on the other side. That's the city, I guess, and I got used to the concept rather fast. I don't think it would be hard to lose your humanity in the city. There are so many people with needs unmet, it becomes overwhelming to the point you just look away and try to ignore it all. I'd never seen a beggar in the street until now.
I had so many first experiences, I may have to blog several times this week to get it all out. I like to keep things short and interesting. If only more things were that way....like class.
The next time I blog, I'll share some more "firsts" with you and, perhaps, attempt a lighter subject than homeless people. You just don't see them in the fields of Southern Indiana, at least, not when the corn grows tall.