Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

Measure

Originally posted to blockquote.org on in Chicago, Illinois

The windows of this coffee shop overlook the stretch of Clark Street that made me ache for the North Side the August night I strolled it in avoidance of the ride back to Hyde Park. It wasn’t long after moving south that panic set in and my heart throbbed in any part of the city where people wandered in pairs or trios or alone or lounged on porches or leaned over patio rails. The entire city opened, including this portion of the neighborhood I’d cursed the whole of my two and a half years in the city proper. I longed for action, and I still want it.

Today I’m well over my time to purchase ratio and use the free wifi of an adjacent business. When adults younger than me, in their coats, hats, and messenger bags, come to the large table I am not sharing, I ignore them until they’ve already started turning back. Truth be told, they look hurt. Some day in the future they’ll get to this chair before I do, and they’ll have the window, the sunlight, and the passing cars.

The new workweek starts tomorrow and I’ll think about them, and about the towers that empty onto the 172 at its first stop, just east of the viaduct at 51st Street, as I pass the bus on my bike. It’ll be a brief thought, one of hundreds along the lone mile from my apartment to Swift Hall.

That mile made so much sense a year ago — long before I’d given any thought to porches and patios, the sports bars I still avoid, and the people out walking together wherever it is they’re going, because the places they’re going don’t matter as much as the fact that the places constitute a plurality, and the people aren’t all hyperintelligent affluent twentysomethings. Even with more friends than I’ve had in my nearly thirty years of life, Hyde Park is a lonely place, one I am and will be ready to leave for wherever in this city I end up after.