Chicago

I’m sitting on the South Bend Line, in the second train to the nose, because I’m riding it all the way to South Bend Airport (and then, going to the University of Notre Dame). My planned route has taken far longer than it needed to, to get from point Orlando to point UND, but I have been able to smell the city, feel its cold breath on my face, hear the voices of its people, and buy an oat milk coffee.

Chicago is very different from anywhere I’ve been, yet somehow makes me think of Munich, I think it was Munich at least, where David and I stopped for a transfer from one bus to another on our way to our flight in Copenhagen. In Munich, we sat in the chilly morning, eating cheap sandwiches from one of the bus station’s stores and talking with a young man we met. Here, it is just me, and that always results in a multitude of feelings and sensory consequences: I am alone and so I am nervous, scared, less likely to enter into cafes or make sounds, but I am also open, observant, my pores receptive to the life of the city.

Last night, I stayed at a hostel called “Holiday Jones,” after taking the blue line from the airport to Division station. Noteworthily, when I asked the ticket women at the airport how to get to Division, they said, “Girl, you need to look less lost. Seriously, be careful. You have to look less lost.” So I put on my half-badass half-bored face and tried to look like a local.

The hostel was lovely. I did some work in the basement common area, then fell asleep early, with my headphones in. Around 2 am, other girls came in and turned the lights on, but my headphones kept their voices from my ears — I bought those nice running ones that curl around your ear and effectively block outside noises from you.

Everyone here is so kind, and laughs delightfully. The woman I asked for directions to Millennium station helped me — my GPS wasn’t working on my phone, and she saved my butt. The conductor on this train is inexorably kind, and the people at my hostel were lovely. I didn’t expect Chicago to be full of so many kind people, perhaps because I read a third of Devil in the White City.

Now, it’s been a weekend. I spent the rest of Friday, and then Saturday, at the University for the Human Development Conference. There were incredible people, who spent their time with research that will hopefully make the world better, somehow.

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