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Contrasts Abound in Chicago, IL

Updated on February 28, 2013
Trump International Hotel and Tower
Trump International Hotel and Tower

Trump International Hotel & Tower cuts through the skyline shimmering in the morning light like a rocket preparing to launch into space. A block or so away Chicago's Riverwalk promises a unique view of the Chicago River. So my husband and I decide to check it out and proceed down the concrete steps to the river’s edge. A foul smell of urine hits us square in the face, but a breeze quickly takes the odor with it so we venture further to the walkway.

A small group of homeless people are sitting against the walls and on benches talking to one another. Large black plastic bags lay next to them on the ground possibly holding the only things they own.

We continue to walk along the river towards the stairs that will take us back up to the street. On the stairway in front of us a thin pregnant woman drags a long tangled hose next to her spraying the grime and garbage from the walkway. She smiles at us as we pass her going up the stairs.

Silver painted couple pose with a little girl holding a silver bouquet on Michigan Ave.
Silver painted couple pose with a little girl holding a silver bouquet on Michigan Ave.

The Measure of a Man

Taking in the sights and sounds along Michigan Avenue snapping pictures along the way I noticed a veteran in a wheel chair coming toward us on the sidewalk. He was wearing a blue Veterans cap covered in medals, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Both of his legs were gone from the mid-thigh. He talked to people as he rolled passed them complimenting them. He said, “nice tie” to a young man in a business suit when he passed him and "pretty eyes" to a little girl.

I don't know what I expected to hear this young man say but giving out compliments to random people totally surprised me. He could have chosen to silently wheel past everyone or to curse at us all but instead he decided to say something nice. He reminded me that we all have a choice as to how we treat one another despite our personal circumstances.

Street performers jump and flip on the sidewalk for passersby.
Street performers jump and flip on the sidewalk for passersby.

Busy Street or Desert Island

Chicago is fun and exciting to visit, but you also need to be aware of your surroundings and what other people are doing. No matter where you go contrasts and dangers exist whether you visit a city, small town or an island.

We are all presented with different views of the world everyday if we just take the time to notice them.

One Minute to the Next

Relaxing in our hotel room listening to the news we hear about a shooting just after 5pm where a man shot another man in the head at close range. By standers helped the victim by wrapping his head in a shirt and administered CPR until help arrived. The shooter ran away so a major search for him was underway by the police. As of news time the victim was still alive but in critical condition.

An hour or so earlier my husband and I were walking in that area among parents with babies in strollers, little girls holding American Girl dolls, men in business suits, women swinging Coach purses and teetering on Jimmy Choo heels while navigating uneven sidewalks.

Hearing about the shooting made me realize once again how grateful I am for the ordinary days where I get to read to my grandson, spend time with my children and husband. Those moments are priceless and something I don't take for granted because life can go from wonderful one minute to scary the next.


A wedding couple running up the stairs with an older female trailing behind them.
A wedding couple running up the stairs with an older female trailing behind them.
Woman scanning the crowd.
Woman scanning the crowd.
View from Pavilion's outdoor seating area.
View from Pavilion's outdoor seating area.

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