Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The City I Love


HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

-Carl Sandburg

Best friend was here this weekend. She taught me to love this city. It's not as though I didn't have a taste of the city as a child but we were a most certainly the product of a sleepy suburb. My hometown was one of those sleepy metra station towns where everyone knew everyone else. We didn't venture into the city much except for the once a year trip to the museums or to see the Christmas windows at Marshall Fields. I worked downtown when I was younger and that's where I met Best Friend. She is a force of nature. We worked in the same department and it amazes me even to this day how many people that not only do I still know from working there but how many I'd like to still know. We were all young professional types some with families, some building our lives. We all knew eachother and our backgrounds, the stories of our lives. Here I meet this sweet innocent girl from the East Coast, transplated here for a job and she was just full of adventure.

Years and years later we find eachother again. After I leave this job and start my family and do the school, work, school thing over and over again. I call her out of the blue to tell her my father passed and she had just lost her grandparents. We laughed a little we cried a little and since that day I've spoken to her every day of my life, sometimes several times a day.

Isn't it strange when friendship does that? When you are forged in steel and they just know you. They know you through your life adventures. We know eachother from overtime Saturday afternoons 20 something years ago when we'd wander into the movies after working and then stop for dinner and find our ways to the different end of the city we'd call home. She was at my wedding, there when my son was born. She, this friend I will have the rest of my life shares her family with me; her neices and nephews call me "Auntie Carrie" and my son affectionately referes to her as just "Auntie" as though there were no other and there'd never be another "Auntie." Her brothers and sisters treat me as one of their own and when my son didn't have a grandma, there was Best Friend sharing her mother and now my son holds his "found grandmother" close to his heart, taking her to lunch and picking her up from the airport where they will have a little alone time.

And in the context of that friendship, the one I hold the dearest is the backdrop of this city I love. So, it was natural for us to take a visit downtown. We wandered through the streets, the cavernous darkness of the financial markets on LaSalle, over to the lake to watch the fountain (already turned off for the evening) and past the new Trump Tower. The city, towering over us welcomed us into it's arms, making us just another of the teaming throbbing pulse beat of people moving from here to there, some to visit the city, others who call it home and those train people heading to metra to find their way home after a day in one of the million of offices there.

We had lunch with an old friend, spent days shopping and chatting and trying to fight off sleep to spend just a few more minutes together. My son shared his next big adventure, you see he gets his sense of adventure from his beloved "Auntie." He will jump on a train or plane in a moment's notice because she's taught him there is no place on this earth he wouldn't be welcome and that adventure is the pulse of life itself. We laughed over the antics of the newest found kitten who found her way here lost in the recent storms. We made lunch together, found some garage sales and mapped out the future. I have a plan, she has a plan and soon they will merge again and we will have that one plan that means being closer. The last year and something has been difficult with her being so far away but time passes love never changes. Love is the constant in all our lives, in every relationship. She will be here soon. I will go there and I am forever blessed.

I carry this city with me, every day in my heart, in my art and who I am. I can't even count the times we've sat in her high rise on Michigan avenue and watched the fireworks on New Year's Eve with our family around loving us. We've explored the ethnic corners of China town all the way up to Devon avenue where we've shopped for Sari fabric. On every street corner, in every crevice there is a story, lives moving through the days, friends shopping and taking long pic nic lunches up at Northwestern.

Thanks to Carl Sandburg for when I pass a screaming preacher on state street, or see the housing projects being torn down, drive down archer avenue past where my parents and their parents lived and carved our a living. When I see the man on the street homeless selling newspapers....I think of Sandburg

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.

I love my city and I love that Best Friend was here to share it with met his weekend. I am still high from it all. If you are interested in my art you can always find it at poetsummer.etsy.com and you can find me at Summerpoet@msn.com. Take care, Carrie.

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