I don’t know Irv, but he greets me every morning on my walk to work, rain or shine, with a big, generous “hello.” Thankfully today, August 30, 2011, it is 75 degrees, low humidity with a gentle breeze. Chicagoans were right when they told me a few glorious days between June and October would bring forgiveness for all winter brutality.
As I walk to work down Michigan Avenue, the mannequins in the store windows forecast the season to come. Wrapped in layers of wool and placed in snow-stomping boots, their frigid stares are a stark contrast to the sun-kissed plantings.
Walking to work is a luxury. Thirty minutes of street theater. Today, a farmers’ market surrounds the Telebone sculpture in front of the MCA. A taxi cab driver and an out-of- town pedestrian have a conversation in expletives. Turns out, the cabbie was right about the left-hand turn signal. And then there’s Marilyn, 26 feet tall and causing a controversy in her lacy undies.
I head down Wacker Drive. And I see Irv in the distance. He’s always there. Affable grin, the biggest hand wave you can imagine. He’s a daily reminder to me of how warm and welcoming Chicago is. I feel like I should know Irv better. I think if I get to know folks like Irv, I’ll feel more at home here.
Unlike New York City, where I spent the last 24 years of my life, Chicago does not belong to the transient. Chicago people have roots in Chicago. They dig into their city.
Six degrees of separation feels more like two. Chicago feels like the love child of the two places I spent most of my life – the Carolinas and NYC. Small town meets big city. Small towns are tight knit. It is hard for outsiders to stop feeling like outsiders unless they try. And that’s what I intend to do.
I’m going to do a better job of getting to know people in this town. Starting with Irv who goes by the name Kup (pronounced Cup) as any true Chicagoan will tell you.
About the author: Susan Credle came to Chicago in 2009 to be Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett. She’ll stay in Chicago because it is starting to feel like home.
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