The city has always been a place of refuge for me. When things get tight in my chest and my fists ball up, I know the only cure is to drive to the nearest city, climb to the roof of the highest skyscraper, and release. I release through deep breaths and simply looking. The eyes are the gateway to our hearts, or so I’ve learned, and my eyes are in love with building after building mashed together to create a chaos filled with possibilities and diversity.
Down on the sidewalks, I’m among strangers who don’t care who I am, they don’t want to talk to me, they don’t want anything from me. Some look like me, some don’t. Some love like me, some don’t and most don’t mind. Some I can understand, some I cannot. It’s the only time in my life I don’t have to worry what my face looks like and what emotions display there. It’s a place I can be completely, 100 percent me. The city lets me live in oblivion. I exist only to myself and the people I choose to acknowledge.
I can crane my neck until it can’t go back any farther and turn in a circle and still not see everything. It’s the journey that brings me lessons about myself I never knew. As I’m are curious, I make memories, I discover a different part of myself. The stars only exist atop roofs high in the sky and yet the city streets hold so much magic. I’m in love with its vastness and its ability to be chaotic in such an organized way.
Standing among skyscrapers is the only time I like to feel inferior. My superiority complex goes away and I become human again. I’m not worried about traffic, or being first or the best. I’m not thinking about next week or tomorrow. I’m just present. That’s important to be a well-rounded person, I think. It’s a reminder that even though you move mountains at your job and your influence changes lives with kids, you are still just another piece to this world we all live in. You simply exist.
A city doesn’t care about any of this; the city doesn’t care that it’s my therapy. It’s concrete, brick, cobblestone pathways, and glass windows overlooking millions of people. It’s rooftops with water towers, and it’s bike paths next to a lake. It’s parks surrounded by buildings and clock towers. It’s food trucks outside corporations and your favorite breakfast joint that only seats 20, and reminds you of home. It’s the doorman who greets you the same way each day. It’s the subway and bus systems that allow you to touch every part of the city. It’s chaotic consistency and it’s what my heart loves.
So when I step foot in Chicago next week, I will make sure to simply exist. I will let myself feel inferior. I will stand and look, take it all in. Soak up enough city love to bring back with me to a smaller city. I’ll allow it to mold me into whomever I am supposed to be there.