Under the Same Skyline

What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? He asks. We’re sitting, or maybe it’s hiding, on the third floor of the Michigan Avenue Crate&Barrel when he asks. Bodies tired from a day of el commute, meandering amongst the masses in the downtown drizzle, we’ve melted into the wide for-sale couch, feet perched on the coordinating ottoman before us.

David and Meghan have left their bags with us, our feet sharing the ottoman with an assortment of plastic retail bags, distinct logos emblazoned across each one. Their bags left carefully under our care, the couples wanders the store, steps tracing a haphazard loops through displays of dishes, dressers, and a plethora of miniature life-improving devices.

And we sit on the couch, with the January night settling cold and wet over the city, and he asks me what I like best.

I think, for a second. Because I want to have an answer, of course. But then I shake my head, shrug my shoulders ever so slightly. I don’t know, I tell him slowly, unsure of my own uncertainty.

I glance around the store, for a moment, then. Eyes sliding, unfocused, over the books they’ve used to line the for-sale shelves, the hallway lined with 2×1 foot carpet swatches in all manner of color and pattern. I try to find my answer as I look, as if the secrets to the intersection of my heart and the city of Chicago lay hidden in carpet samples and never-read display books.

It’s not long, though, before he answers his own question. He’s a habit of doing that, sometimes even over text, and I wait and listen, because I know that a question he’s asked is often a question he’s already answered, and I want to hear what he thinks.

I think I like the blend best, he says. One hand moving in the air ever so slightly as he describes the mix that is present in the city we both grew up with. Mix of people, mix of places. Mix of occupations, interests, options, opportunities. A mix of everything, really.

And outside, the cars fly up and down Michigan Avenue, while the people from all different nations move in and out of all manner of buildings, and the needs and the wants and the languages and the voices are all so very different, and here we are in the same rain-shining city.

~Natalia

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