it's been almost a week since i landed here and already so much seems routine. Chrissy and I are, somehow, learning to live with the fact that we're 2 blocks from the firehouse and apparently Chicagoans have fires EVERY 10 MINUTES during the hours of 2am-5am. It sounds so "country-mouse" of me, but I had no idea how LOUD the city would be. There's constant traffic, the aforementioned fire trucks, people yelling, and just the sounds of continous living in yet another city that doesn't really sleep. I remember Claire and I getting irritated at our neighbor's parties that lasted until 2am - this is so much worse.
But, actually, it's also kind of great. Our neighborhood is really great - lots of diversity which is so refreshing, coming from Portland. And it appears to be at a really interesting tipping point - more gentrified behind our building, and more lower-middle-class in front of our building. Well, that's how it seems to me. There's lots to observe - dozens of off-duty cab drivers congregate at the two African restaurants across from each other. I wonder what makes one better than the other? I'll need to sample to find out, I think :) There was a peace march organized by one of the local nonprofits (Centro Romero) that works in our neighborhood. So I looked out my window Monday to see a small peace rally with a call-and-response chant and a few dozen children holding signs and waving. There's a farmer's market a few blocks away, a coffeeshop 2 blocks past that, and 3 gorgeous Catholic churches within easy walking distance. It makes me feel really wonderful to know that there are these sorts of things in the neighborhood I'm trying to call home.
One of my biggest struggles was recently brought up by my friend Alex. Alex puts a high price on living in solidarity and, while I don't know if that's what I'm called to, I have great respect for the way he lives life. I was talking about the relative issues of safety, and he reminded me that Jesus wasn't safe, that he basically spent all his time in a war zone, moving between 2 warring tribes, and, obviously, he was eventually killed, which he KNEW would happen. So, Alex reasoned, one should expect to mugged or beat up or worse. But I've spent a lot of time thinking about my own safety - trying not to look at people on the streets, always being aware of my surroundings, etc. I think that the truth is between those two ideas - reckless abandon in regards to personal safety and a buttoned-up, closed-off approach to city living. So, in the coming weeks, I am hoping to do more personal exploring, both geographically and spiritually, to find my place and equilibrium in the city, so I can stop anticipating violence or distress whenever I'm alone at night. People lived good lives here before I came and will after I leave, so it's ridiculous to assume that I can't also do that.
Oh, and my room looks almost-put-together after a marathon night of bed-making and a trip to Salvation Army for my new desk/chair set-up. It's feeling more and more like home, which is nice! It's the little things that make the biggest difference sometimes...