In Chicago Rain, I’m looking back at the years of my youth and strength. I grew up in Aurora, but spent two decades in the urban bliss of the Windy City. I married there, and all three of my children were born at the Swedish Covenant Hospital on the Northwest side.
10″ x 12″ acrylic with blades
on a solid wooden block
Actually, Aurora is considered a part of “Chicagoland,” as it is only forty miles west. A city itself, but small compared to Chicago with about 100,000 population, hardly a village. We actually had a twenty-story skyscraper in town. But the allurement of the big city is magical. Let me tell you about my first trip to the big city, many years before Chicago Rain. I was in 8th grade and along with two of my pals, decided to skip school and go to Chicago. None of us were old enough to drive, but Aurora has a commuter train that goes straight into Union Station. Back then the tickets were probably less than ten bucks, so we saved up for our big hooky day trip!
I thought I was street wise, but it turned out I was not. At 14, the world belonged to me; Chicago was just the first stop. We got off the train in Union Station and somehow got out on the streets through the throngs of humanity. No problem, easy peasy. I was tough, Chicago streets did NOT scare me. (They should have.) We roamed around aimlessly acting as if 100-story skyscrapers were normal things, but our necks were bent a lot that day.
Then we ventured into the subway system. We acted cool, yet had no idea how to read the complicated maps on the station walls and in the trains. While transferring from the NW routes to the Southside routes, I got separated from my friends. They were ahead about twenty or thirty bodies in the sardine can of the subway car. When they got off, I had to rush to an exit or be forever on my own.
Running as fast as I could, I spotted them ahead going up a huge escalator. Some pals they were – they didn’t even notice I WAS MISSING! I jumped on the escalator and found myself squished in the midst of a large group of teenage boys. (Hmm, I thought, why weren’t they in school?) Must be trouble-makers for sure. Or wait, worse . . . gang members? Yikes, they didn’t smile at me, but glared.
That’s the last thing I remembered until my friends were splashing water in my face to bring me to consciousness on the floor at the top of the escalator. And for some reason all of my pockets were empty. Too bad those punks couldn’t find a rich kid to rob. All they got from my was a couple bucks and my comb (don’t need one of those anymore.) Then the swelling in my face and head started. They sucker-punched me!
Chicago Rain is a painting about years later when I moved to the city. I was much more cautious and wise, and instead of a gang, I found the love of my life.