If I close my eyes, I can see it now.
Somewhere in the city, there’s an L-train rumbling against a metal track, the clamor of voices inside is loud, but never overcoming the sound. Somewhere in the city, a tourist snaps a picture and the camera shutters crackle. Bright eyes shine as they take in the lights, the art. A man swears as traffic slows on the highway. Deep dish pizza cooks in a giant oven, and people coo in admiration as they lift cheesy slices off the pan delightfully.
My siblings and I step out of the car sleepily, exhausted from having driven so long to arrive. My purse drums against my hip as I walk forward, hazel eyes peeking through sunglasses as I breathe in the city, examining a tall mural cascading down the side of the building. I’ll never learn the name of the building, but I’ll always remember the picture.
We wander to Depaul University first and discover a bookstore. Being surrounded by literature brings me comfort in my anxiousness, having never visited this place before. We walk for hours, following my father as he navigates countless crowds and winding streets. Traffic sounds hum in the background, but it isn’t irritating. It’s the sort of chaos that’s beautiful and reminds you that the world is bigger than you realize.
A moment of peace arrives at Millennium Park. We stand in front of a vast fountain, marveling at the architecture and snapping pictures, so as never to forget where we stand. I reach into my purse and shove pennies into the outstretched hands of my family members. My dad laughs and makes a wish. If I wasn’t so superstitious, I might tell you what I wished for. But now that I think of it, I don’t really remember.
We find another place a few minutes later. Buckingham Fountain is beautiful and as the wind blows, cascading strands of water splash our clothes and dampen our skin. My sister and I spin and dance in the makeshift rain as our parents take pictures. It’s the perfect place to end our exploration and when we leave the city a few hours later, I can still feel the drops of water on my cheeks and can still hear the rumble of the city in the back of my mind.
Chicago. It’s many things, just as complicated as the people living there, but the one assertion I can make with absolute confidence is that I’ll never forget the memories made downtown during that eventful afternoon.
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