After many hours of networking on the phone yesterday trying to get leads for my new future, I needed a break. I NEEDED fresh air. Although it’s still cold in Chicago I really felt the urge to go running outside even though the “feels like” temperature on my iPhone indicated 48 degrees. This isn’t at all that cold for Chicago but I don’t have cold running gear and I refuse to buy it now because it is April for God’s sake, and it’s supposed to be Spring, damn it! When I stepped outside it felt much colder. I hesitated to go back inside to do my online yoga, but the website the day before had way too much traffic and I couldn’t even log on. I was frustrated then so the thought of experiencing the same issue made me continue with the the cold run. I live in a quiet Streeterville neighborhood near the side of the river that was still available to walk along, and just as I was leaving my building and going down a set of stairs to head toward the river, I had a thought that I might be forced to move in a couple of months or so. I might not have the lake view from my apartment, and I might not be close to the river even. It was an awareness that I had to face along with all the other challenges that are forthcoming in the near future. As I got to the bottom of the stairs and turned toward the river, I saw more people and dogs than I have seen before in the area so I felt good just knowing that others are out getting fresh air, too. It was a strange feeling of camaraderie that I attribute to the three weeks of isolation, and so just seeing people in general felt good. My feelings were halted, however, when I realized that the police department had now closed off this side, my side!, of the river, too. I couldn’t go running along the small length of it as I had planned so I had to find another way. I hate running on just concrete with no grass, trees, or any natural beauty. To think that there is a gorgeous lake and the river nearby, as well as the beautiful parks, and that I can’t run or walk along it is just crazy, I thought.
I had to calm the hell down. Onward, damn it! So I started running toward I don’t know where. I kinda felt like a trapped animal. I felt a little bit of hope when I saw just a small strip of the river with a few boats docked near it, and it wasn’t closed off! It was only one block’s length but I took it. There were empty restaurants which was sad to see which led to the end of the short block with a set of concrete stairs at the end. I paused at the bottom of the stairs and pulled the hood over my head of the gray hoodie I was wearing. I don’t know why at that very moment I thought of Rocky, the movie, and then I heard the music of Rocky in my head. Why the hell this came to mind is beyond me. Perhaps it’s my coping mechanism and I am finding my own way of navigating through the current world crisis, and maybe somehow I have told myself that I MUST overcome this horrible state of the world by living each day like a challenge, and yes, even as an underdog. And of course, stairs always represent barriers, extra work, and the climb and effort to get to the top. Anyway, I made it to the top but I didn’t know which way to go. My eyes and heartstrings pulled me toward the lake but instead I had to keep running on the boring concrete with cars passing by. As I continued to feel like a trapped animal I decided to wrap around my building and run toward Millennium Park knowing full well that the entire park was closed. When I was approaching a homeless guy who was sitting in front of the Walgreens at the back of my building, I couldn’t believe what happened next. He started yelling from a gruff man’s voice…ROCK-Y!…ROCK-Y…ROCK-Y! As I passed by him I heard the famous Rocky theme in my head where Rocky climbs the stairs after running through the streets of Philadelphia and pauses at the top of the stairs with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the background. I couldn’t help but smile underneath my hoodie, and I just simply could not believe this coincidence! I realize it may seem like I’m making this up, but when I travel these strange and amazing coincidences happen to me all to often.
After running a little over three miles I decided to walk back home. I’m not a runner, really, and after hearing about so many runners ruining their knees I hesitate to go long distances unless I’m on a treadmill thinking that it might be easier on my knees. I was walking along the far back end of Millenium Park and I stopped to take pictures as the sun was just setting. It was one of those moments where the light was just right. I stood on my tiptoes on the platform I was standing on to get the right vantage point for my perfect picture when I heard birds singing. For some reason they made me stop and listen intently, and I felt strangely happy with their melody. I never hear birds in the city except when I’m traveling to an amazing place for vacation. I was thinking that this pandemic was actually making me weird. Like social isolation was the cause? And then I was thinking that I must look like those people that you see on the streets that are not quite right in their heads. I’m picturing those people that have a stupid, smiling face as they’re walking down the street! Anyway, the sculpture of The Bean was so captivating from where I was standing, and seen with the backdrop of the Chicago architecture reminded me of a beautiful symphony. The warm glow of the sunset added to my happy state, and I realized that I was witnessing change happening in me. Almost three weeks into this social distancing and isolation sure has made me think differently about the world and myself in it. I have changed, no doubt. To best describe the sensations that will, again, sound crazy is that I feel like I can hear and see the space within time. Whoa. I guess I’m much more than just grateful.