22.1.07

My Impending Death on the Banks of Lake Michigan


Here I am, back to where I never thought I would go again. I am not talking about my delayed return to Charlottesville, although our month-long break is roughly twice as long as my usual holiday and just long enough to forget that I am in law school and begin to believe that my real calling in life is to sleep in until 11:00 every morning, waste the day and finish the nights hanging at my friends’ (who, by the way, have been back in school since the 8th) house reliving past activities such as attempting to create a tin-can telephone between 2nd and 13th floor apartments and contaminating my water with centerpiece candle-oil at Julio’s Mexican restaurant. No, being 6:00 PM after spending since 5:30 AM in airport after airport, I wish I was back home at the ‘ol UVa.

But, since traveling in airports is such a boring subject, let us change it to something a little more uplifting: irrational fears. Everyone is afraid of something, I’m sure. Sorry, all you macho guys who claim immunity, I’m not buying the act—there has to be something that sends chills up your spine, be it spiders or heights, or just committing to that girl you have been seeing for a while but you haven’t even been able to muster enough courage to take the next step. My fear, which is, in fact, entirely rational and fully explains this post’s opening sentence, is Chicago Illinois. That’s right I am afraid of Chicago, the very city where I sit right now, typing this message and nervously shifting my eyes back and forth in search of trouble because being in a metropolis such as this, you can never be too weary.

This fear of Chicago started not to long ago actually, but has since taken control of my life to such a degree that I have had (and this is complexly true and factual) had nightmares of the dreaded monster of concrete and people, millions and millions of people, crawling up and down the walls and hiding out in thousands of cars trucks and SUVs that inhabit its vein-like freeway system. I take you back now to August 2006, when I had just unexpectedly left my bride of a mere three months at border-post in Montana and traveled halfway across the country in Fanny, my amazingly reliable Ford Escort. I arrived in Chicago at about 10 AM with high hopes and Sufjan Steven’s anthem of the city playfully streaming out of Fanny’s speakers. I traveled without incident when it happened: the mother of all parking-lot style grid-locks loamed behind me as far as the eye could see and quickly expanded for miles behind Fanny and I. Now, being the stalwart adventurer that I am, I didn’t panic—at least not for the first couple of hours that I used to travel 10 miles or so. No no, the panic didn’t set in until the low fuel light came on. I had never before tested the low-fuel light, but luckily it lasted the 20 minutes or so that it took to reach the next available off-ramp (Fanny saves the day again), which I excitedly took and ended up leading straight into what I will describe simple as ‘the ghetto.’ And I’m not talking about the "oh, Garneu Towers’ old stoves are so ghetto," but the actual get shot in the back because someone doesn’t like your brand of tennis shoe (or, perhaps more likely, because he particularly likes your shoes) ghetto, where I had to pre-pay for my gas to a gruff-looking attendant seated behind what I could only assume was bullet-proof glass. Fortunately for all, I was able hastily completely re-route my cross-country odyssey an escape from that horrible, horrible city (after a few more hours of adventure in its never-ending suburbs with a full tank of gas and all limbs attached.

Ever since that day, I have been terrified of Chicago, yet here I am, back in that death-trap of a town, listening to the PA system warn us of the airport’s “orange alert” and anxiously awaiting my delayed (surprise, surprise) flight that will carry me safely away from almost certain death. Aghh, does that old woman have a gun!

Oh wait; it’s just an apple.

1 comments:

Leona said...

You write very well.