I love to walk. Really love to walk. What I like most about the experience is the synchronicity of pace and breath. It’s tough to appreciate the partnership with earbuds in, so I stopped wearing them. When I am walking and listening to something other than what man and nature provide, the music or podcast is coming from my phone that is tucked into a pocket or a strapped to my arm. I’ve come to prefer to let sound in rather than block it out.
This week I started a new job downtown. My office is a ten minute walk from Ogilvie Transportation Center. My earbuds are still waiting to make an appearance.
The city’s sounds, smells, and sights are intoxicating. As I step off the train another locomotive’s bells ring as it pulls into the station. In the morning people are quiet, the air is filled with fumes and footsteps, peppered by an occasional and audible excuse me, pardon me, and god bless you. Falling in like cattle, some step up to step down the stairs, others weave in and out of lines to gain a few extra seconds before they emerge outside. Their shoe clicks vary, soft rubber, fine leather, hard plastic, tapping against weathered stone floors, metal escalators, concrete streets, and metal bridges.
Outside, engines of cars large and small, sputter and roar, brakes lock, horns beep, and tires burn the streets that are filled with vehicles.
Crossing the river, the squawk of a seagull is minced with a homeless person asking for money, as the whiz of another gull just missing my head makes me wonder which sense God created first sight or sound.
This cacophony of man and nature clashing like every cymbal every made is glorious. It’s life. It’s a marriage of loud meets louder. Conversations are crashed and snippets of relationships are unintentionally eavesdropped. Blinking lights moving between walk and don’t keep me racing to beat the clock.
Underneath that corner there is another circus on lower Wacker Drive where trucks powered by Diesel engines criss cross the underbelly of the city as they rush to deliver their goods. Their noxious fumes mix with the gases and steam spewing from the city’s sewers, that hit me in the face at every street corner where the street light force pedestrians to halt.
It’s beautiful in its own busy way. And nothing that I want to block out. I’m savoring all of Chicago’s sounds, sights, and smells. Like the other day when I looked out the window and celebrated the bridge going up and welcoming the sailboats home for the season.
Note: just in case this is a mess, it’s the first time I’ve written my blog entirely on my phone while on the train!