This has been one of those weeks were the world pauses for moments during which I'm nearly moved to tears when I think about the fact that I live in a city that I love.
I waited for my friend D on Tuesday morning, staring out the front door of our three-flat to the gentle rain on our city street. He lives in the city. The two friends of ours who would also ride to work with us live in the city. None of us live within what I think of as walking-distance of one another (I'd bike it easily, though). We all live in spots where a lot of what we do and need happens within less than a mile of where our homes. We all live in this city of nearly three million people, and on that Tuesday morning, the distance between us seemed small, thinking about the four of us drawn together by our jobs initially and now by our friendship. In such a big place, where I don't even know my neighbors' names, I know a handful of people I could call in the middle of the night who would be there if I asked them to be.
On days when the weather is bad, I know my mother thinks of me, worries about me walking in the rain or the snow, when she walks to her garage and drives her car to work. I walk 3/4 of a mile to the commuter rail, and I'm carless by circumstance -- it was never a choice. I have friends, though, for whom it is a choice, and they, too, make the trip to the commuter train, which we ride thirty miles to work.
City life is different. When you live your life without a car, it's just how you live your life. I think people who are used to driving can't understand why we would make this choice or why we don't feel our lives would be fundamentally improved by driving. I think of it as weighing out your options. Is it a bigger hassle for me to walk to the train than it is for someone to drive to work? Sure, when the weather's bad, I'm sure that it is a bigger hassle, if we were to put them on a scale. But, I'm free of other hassles drivers have, like the maintenance of a car, the cost of auto insurance, the price of gas, the headache of traffic. Maybe that balances out what hassles I face. Maybe the freedom to bike places is a pleasure I have that you don't. Maybe the environment is a little better because some of us take the train or the bus or move under our own motion.
These are all such big life issues, and yet, it's all so simple to me in ways. I love where I live and with whom I live. I love the city that separates us and brings us together. I may groan at the time spent on the train, until I think of all the laughs and tears my friends and I have shared in those moments.
I'm just really happy in Chicago. This is one of those weeks when I know that with absolute certainty.