Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Whiskey Bottle On the Roof

I moved to Chicago seven years ago, in May of 2006. I got a job in River North, a few blocks off of the Chicago Brown Line stop, wiithin a couple of months of being here. Shortly before the train platform, going southbound, there's this one rooftop, and one morning soon after I began my River North job, I noticed a discarded, empty whiskey bottle in the middle of it. (There's no label. It could have been any alcohol, really, but I decided early on it was whiskey.)

Over the years, I've checked on that bottle if I think of it and if I'm near a window I can look out. 

Seven years later, that bottle is still there. It's been my one constant in all my time in Chicago. (Recently, it's been joined by a discarded paint roller.)  It remains a reminder of how much I've changed since I've been here, but also how much I have stayed the same. 

I left that job in River North almost four years ago, escorted out of the building with a box of my personal effects, a lay off long over due in the wake of a crashed economy. This afternoon, I return to work in the same neighborhood, just a few blocks away from my old office, in a new position with a chiropractic office. The train delayed briefly as it pulled into the station today, and I finally thought to snap a picture of my seven-year companion. 

With this in mind, here's seven things I've learned in my seven years in Chicago, in no particular order. 

1. I have little desire to be famous anymore. I simply wish to do a good job and be respected in my work and artistic endeavors. 

2. Unless I have a private, covered place to park it, I will never again own a car in this city. 

3. It's sad to think of all the time I spent before 2009 not drinking coffee. 

4. No matter how many people I meet and get to know in this big city, I will always be a little bit surprised when I randomly run into someone I know in public. 

5. The art of personal storytelling can save you, but it can also hinder you. When the paint of your medium is your own personal past and narrative, you have to be careful with the way you move the brush across the canvas. 

6. The pursuit of permanence in an impermanent world will lead to stagnation and bitterness. 

7. Being a long-time citizen of the Windy City and being surprised by the weather, in any season, is the epitome of not learning from the past.