In which I discover America

Last week I discovered America.

I stepped out my front door, took a long walk through my neighborhood and the adjoining neighborhoods of Forest Glen and Jefferson Park and discovered America.

I learned lots of fascinating things.

I learned that someone not a mile from where I’m sitting keeps live chickens in their yard. I learned that there are people practicing rock music in quiet, industrious, and prosperous Chicago neighborhoods in the afternoon in the middle of the week (they weren’t bad). I learned a great shortcut from my house to the Jefferson Park station (and the Gale Street Inn)—it’s already saving me time in driving and reducing stress.

There were some wonderful and mysterious signs put up in windows and hung on fences to no one in particular but someone who just might pass by. “Leave all deliveries inside”. “Ring bell”. And my favorite, written in bold calligraphy and hung on a fence: “The black rooster at Forest Glen and Las Casas is not ours. Thanks for asking.” I thought that had a sort of Zen quality.

I saw Korean, Hispanic, Polish, Scandinavian, Irish, and English surnames on mailboxes.

I met interesting people. An elderly man wearing a backpack and riding a bicycle who tracked my step on foot for a good two miles. Mail carriers who were wary but friendly. A woman in her eighties walking the opposite direction I was who approached me with bright, active eyes, smiled at me, and wished me a good morning in clear, cultured tones (she was only a few hours off).

I saw buildings I’d never seen before and places I’d never been.

Amazing what you can discover just by taking a long walk.

2 comments… add one
  • You aren’t that all far from Albany Park. When we lived there thirty years ago, we had within a two block radius of our apartment a Thai restaurant, a Korean bul-gugi joint, a Mexican grocery, a Kosher grocery, a Kosher butcher shop, a Greek-owned “International” grocery which catered to everyone in the area including the Swedes to the North a ways, a Phillipine gift store, a Yemen-American club and a hippie boutique.

  • Very close. I think I know exactly the area you’re talking about. Now add Bosnian restaurants—quite a few have opened in the general vicinity within the last 10 years.

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