Monday, March 18, 2013

Pink Line Night in Chciago

Standing in the middle of the station, Daniel, the lad I had just spent 10 hours with on the train, was a welcome site. My past 38 minutes had been spent wandering Chicago in the freezing win and riding with a stranger back to where I started.

Daniel reasured me that he was pleased to pick me up at the station and didn't mind. I was grateful, later on in the night, when he reassured me that there was nothing he would have rather done. I think it was then. That or the next day. It felt good that he wasn't just hanging out with me for my sake but because he himself enjoyed it.

In case you haven't picked up, on this blog, I have sagging self esteem that leads me to generally believe that folks, when hanging out with me, are doing it out of charity and would much rather be elsewhere.

He walked me to the hostel where I gave them $30 for the night. After stumbling upstairs and dropping off my bag in an empty room, I leaned over the banister where he was standing two flights down and asked if he wanted to still hang out (poor guy had already spent 10 hours with me) and he somehow implied that he did. I pulled on a glove, shoved my crappy-camera into my pocket and we set out.

It was fresh.
I felt free.
I felt alive and vibrant to be moving around.
Life was coming together in Chicago (I had a bed and that's about all I needed) and I had a 6' 3” tall man by my side enabling me to be in the unfamiliar city streets at night.

“With you I feel safe,” I said.
I liked his reply.

Within the first 9 minutes I saw a giant fold-up metal cart with wheels next to a garbage sign – the universal sign of, “I don't want it so you take it.” This was exactly, exactly what I had been looking for in Seattle and now here it was in Chicago for free on the sidewalk! Dude!

After a few blocks I saw the Chicago transit train station. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, after spending 51 hours on a train, the first thing I did with my free time in Chicago was ride another train.

We went to a Subway to break a $20 so I could get a bus ticket. I bought the cheapest thing possible, a raspberry cheesecake cookie, and shoved it into my pocket for later. Even as I was tempted to eat it, Daniel encouraged me that that cookie still had a purpose.

 We compared the routes of the different lines and picked out the pink one to Cierro. It took a bit to figure out the system, but eventually we did and had our tickets set to get us on the train. It was $2.00 a ride plus $0.25 for a transfer (how we would get back).

Chicago at night was.. was... I'm not sure how to put it into words. I was excited to be on that train.

I was also trying to complete one of my goals for 2013 to master (or, at the least, use) three transportation systems in three cities. Now, I know this wasn't a master, but I didn't get the system down.

At Cierro, we turned right back.

I continued to enjoy Daniel's company.

We walked back to the hostel and on the way there was a man asking for money. I asked if he wanted my cookie. He was pretty sure he wanted it and I hope he enjoyed it. The cookie became a mini-theme that was duplicated the next day.

One stretch of road was exceptionally windy. We fought our way forward and eventually decided to run for it. These kinds of moments have fun potential with others – not so swell on your ownsome. I was grateful.

Bed for the night.
Ready for a full night's sleep.

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