A thing that I have not done in quite a while, is leave Indiana. Which, to most of those who do not live here and to many of those who do, may seem incomprehensible. Right now, I’m in Chicago for a week, and I had forgotten that calming, centering joy that overtakes me at the sight of a proper skyline.
I love Indiana, although without Bloomington, I’d probably keep flying over it til I hit New York. When I went to college in upstate New York, I finally figured out why I was always offending people all the time. It was because I lived in the wrong place. Had I been raised in New York, I would have seemed completely normal, and sometimes probably even nice. I understand people there, especially in the city. They are not rude, they’re direct. They aren’t polite and fakey, they are honest. And the main thing they are not is unfriendly, they just have shit to do. If you are not contributing something to their day, well, then move out of the way and leave them alone, because they’re busy. New Yorkers pretty much all have ADHD, which is natural since the city forces you to think about ten different things on about ten different levels all the time. I always thought I would end up living there, but once I got older I realized that I have two main requirements for a home: no roaches, and no shared walls with assholes. There went my dreams of the East Village or the UWS.
And then, when one of my best friends graduated a year ahead of me and went to Northwestern for grad school, I discovered Chicago. I’d been there as a kid several times, since Bloomington is only a few hours away by car. But I had never been there as an adult, and especially not as an adult hanging out with one of the most fun and also ill behaved people I have ever known.
Chicago has lots of what I love about New York–great museums, beautiful architecture, incredible diversity, and excellent baked goods–but it doesn’t have apartments so small that the shower is in the kitchen, and I have never seen a roach in any of the many places I’ve stayed in here. To be fair, that may be because when I was young and poor with poor and young friends, I was often in a state of altered consciousness while in their homes and did not notice the skittery horrors. But I think it might also be that Chicago’s winters are so cold that even roaches, who could survive a nuclear holocaust, could not make it through a winter here. In fact, I am astonished anew every year that so many humans manage to make it through a Chicago winter.
I know just how horrible they are, because my sister lives here, and because every winter she likes to send me photos of the snow accumulation on her outdoor table. Well, I say “winter” but what I mean is “early October”. By the time the snow’s depth is remarkable enough for her to record, it is already at least a foot deep and often sandwiched between layers of ice. I believe that this is God’s way of saying to Chicagoans “Fuck you, what do I have to do to show you assholes that I never meant for your species to LIVE here??” Yet, they persist in doing so, and I think this is probably because in spite of being city dwellers, Chicagoans are also Midwesterners, and as such, are extremely stubborn and tend towards the passive aggressive. Whereas the New Yorker would just tell God to go fuck himself, the Chicagoan nods, says “Why thank you, Lordy McLorderson, I will surely consider that!” and then just does exactly what he wants anyway. I respect that, even though my natural tendency is towards the more direct version of blasphemy.
I have chosen the best time of the year to visit Chicago. The blossoms are out on the trees; the days are almost warm; and the sunlight is pretenaturally bright from bouncing off the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Soon the summer will be here, and God’s summer efforts to tell people not to live here are often as unbearable as his winter ones. Even though it is so much further north, Chicago makes the heat and humidity of southern Indiana look like a child’s game.
All of that said, though, I would still be glad to be here in Chicago and away from Bloomington right now even if there were three feet of snow on the ground. This is because:
1. The Olds are not here. Enough said. Glory, glory hallelujah, praise be to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and their little dog too!
2. I will probably not run into anyone here that I’m currently avoiding at home, a group of people that seems to grow exponentially all the time.
I have been trying to remember anything else I’ve ever done that’s made as many people as mad as pointing out homophobia to a group of liberals and requesting that they address it and reject it. Back in the day, this was something I did a lot, and even though I was usually condemned by some people, they were the people displaying the homophobia, not the ones who deplored it. I mean, I’m pretty accomplished when it comes to infuriating people in large numbers, but this time I’m in a whole new league. I remember when I first read about “post feminism” and was so infuriated that I had to lay down and not speak to people under 30 for a few weeks. Perhaps I’m just witnessing the beginning of the post-gay rights era, when it isn’t just Log Cabin Republicans and gay fundamentalist Christians who think we’re “beyond” all that.
If that is the case then I am going to have to stay here, or at least in some city large enough where I can’t afford to even walk through the wealthy gayborhoods where such people live.