Saturday, October 03, 2009

Memories Of The North

Ed's recent posts on Chicago have brought back to mind so many things that I'd let go of after I left that place. I was quite young when we first left it - mom and dad divorced but he helped move us to a small town in Florida.

I went from an ancient brownstone and concrete playgrounds to thickly tree'd land and sweltering skies. We arrived at night - I liked to watch the moon through the windows as we'd driven long and long but I'd fallen asleep. Mom woke us quietly, perhaps hoping we'd remain mostly asleep so she need do more than fall into bed herself.

That first scent - I still remember it - full of decaying leaves, tinged with sweet perfume (orange blossoms next door, I learned in the morning). And salty...so much that you could feel it like a grit in the air, landing on your skin. And that air...like a warm touch on your skin, through your hair.

It was a place I grew to learn quite well in the few years we were permitted to remain there. I was so angry when we had to leave it. And for what? To return to that horrid place that had no soft breeze, no orange blossoms...

Ed posted this and it gave me a start. The memories rolled through...

I must have been 14 at the time. Already quite dissipated and disillusioned. I'd somehow managed to get to a carnival of some sort - one of those small affairs with very rickety rides and dangerous Carnies. The ferris wheel was absolutely malevolent. But then, I was not entirely sober at the time, either.

It was in that place I first heard that music and to this very day I get a deep sense of unease at it. It was precisely built, that music, those lyrics, to express the entirety of the mess that was Chicago. I know so many people who haven't any idea what it was like, living in that place in - if not squalor - constant danger. One had to always be aware of everything in your environment. Your body language alone could start a fight or seduce the undesirable. And heavens forfend you crossed that invisible line of turf. If you did not belong to a gang, it didn't really matter. They would take you as one might accept a smaller fish on a line when hungry.

And it has not improved. Nothing there has moved beyond that point. Oh, they managed to make the lakeshore tolerable but only because it increased a tax base. And they gave the schools new names - as though adding on a moniker like "metro science center" would change the number of assaults or cause those knives to be cast aside at the door.

I did not watch that video of the poor boy being murdered, casually, by other boys. It is worse than wild animals - animals are doing it for survival, not sport. And when children are so reduced in soul to find murder to be sporting? It makes me give due consideration to euthanasia. Do not suffer those children to live.

Ah, Chicago, raising vile, evil hoardes and then sending them out to...govern.

I was 16 when I left that place.

I have never returned.

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