Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Albany Park Love

I wasn't going to write about the election. The campaign has made me so tired, so upset. I'm glad it will be over soon (or will it?) and yet I'm also anxious about what will come next.

But I got up and was at my polling place* before they officially opened - there was already a line - and voted. And I thought today might be a good day to share some reflections on our neighborhood, on why I love this place and this city.

We were taking the bus home from D's soccer game earlier this month, and I thought about how both his team and that bus were a mix of language, race, and class. This wasn't a surprise to me, every place I go in my particular corner of the city is like that. And I love it. It's what feels like home. It's what I imagine a city should feel like.

Not that Chicago always does, we keep hearing about how it's one of the most segregated cities in America. Demographically, Chicago is almost equally black, white, and Latinx, but you wouldn't know it from mainstream papers or the TV, and I suspect that many of us who call ourselves white have a hard time really believing it.

But a city should be like the world, yes? In these days of travel and migration, a city should be a jambalaya of cultures, each with its own taste, texture, and bite, but all part of a glorious whole. Not a melting pot - that was an idea only ever meant for European immigrants anyway - but a dim sum of abundance, joyously overflowing. Nature is rich - over 6 billion organisms in a teaspoon of dirt, an acre of land teems with life (yes, even in the city) - so why shouldn't our streets be too?

A few days' stay in a man-made corner of a northern state this summer - comprised of hotels, shopping centers, and chain restaurants, barely a person of color in sight - left me gasping and dizzy until I was back on my streets again, awash in flags, veils, music, and color, breathing it all in, steady in the flow.

This is what makes America great. This is the future I vote for. And this is the future I will work for, whatever the results of this election.

With uncertainty and sadness,

* This is the pool hall where we vote. Not the best place for voting - it's awkward getting around inside and The Dude was already reporting problems at 6:30 a.m. - but how can you not love it.

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