Chicago, with 2.7 million people, pulses with activity every minute of the day. It breathes noise in and out — car and truck engines, horns, whistles, sirens, the mass undercurrent of outdoor cafe conversations, street corner musicians and herds of shoppers. Somewhere in the chaos, controlled by a grid of stops and starts, there’s a rhythm to the motion of people, autos and bikes you can’t quite identify.
Sitting in my car, at the light on Chicago Avenue crossing Michigan Avenue south of the Water Tower, men and women, mostly younger, a few with children in strollers, clutch their knapsacks and colorful shopping bags chatting non-stop as they flow across the intersection. Neiman-Marcus, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, American Girl, the names stream by. My impatient vehicle partners rumble in their lanes, waiting for the light to change. At the curb, a man steadies the reins of his horse while riders wait for a ride in a red carriage.
With my radio on, I notice that all that is going on around me really does have a cadence, a tempo that makes sense. And it changes with a touch. Click. Sirius Pops. Verdi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons wraps a calm and beauty over the crowds. The cars are calmly waiting their assigned movement, and the crowds are cohesive, deliberate and moving toward a goal. I feel at peace. Click. Beach Boys. “I Get Around” reminds me this is summer and it’s a young world where cars are king and meant to go fast on city streets. The people are moving eagerly now, with a shove in their steps. Even the horse is skittish. I want to get going. Click to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There’s a pounding going on, on the pavement, in the air, in shouted voices, and on my steering wheel. What a wild and crazy town. The sounds of the city pounding in my brain.
Jeff says there’s a vibe in the city he can feel. He’s right. It can be loud, rough and raw. Or soulful and human. Gentle. Majestic. Personal. Like music. And it’s coming from your radio, or your iPod.
Word of Caution: Very tired with a long drive ahead of you? STOP. Turn off the Spa station and go to Hair Nation for a safer, more invigorating ride.