I have seen Chicago at her best and worse. In the heat of the summer, the sad damp spring, the bright colorful fall and the freezing winter. If I were to move from my city and had to choose only one month to visit, I would come during December. There is one thing that makes winter different from any other time of the year. Christmas lights on Michigan Ave. I was taking pictures for a friend and spent my Saturday running around the city. I started at the river walk and found myself by the Water Tower. It was 55 degrees here in Chicago. This is extremely rare for December. I took full advantage and captured a little bit of the season, featuring the bright Christmas lights.
My friend wanted a great Christmas present for his girlfriend. Pictures of them together. As I followed my friend and his gorgeous girlfriend around the city, I loved hearing their laughter. There is so much noise in the city. It doesn’t usually bother me, but their laughter was a pleasant sound to hear in contrast to the loud horns and busy bustle. It is the sound of two people who know each other well, and enjoy being together. A very different sound from the millions of people in the city who just want the other person on the street or sidewalk to move.
I found my way to Michigan Ave and came to this crowd of people. I literally walked through the Laquan McDonald protestors. Laquan McDonald was an African American male who was shot 16 times by a white cop. The dash-cam caught the scene on tape, but was not released for about a year. The cop is only now being punished for murder. It was stated on Sunday by the Chicago Tribune that, “the U.S. Department of Justice will launch a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s practices”. So my thoughts are, “Oh this is serious now”. There might be a change in the police system.
The bold signs were enough to communicate a clear message. Those who held the signs were from all kinds of backgrounds. As I walked away from the scene I thought about those who stood there and those who had been standing on the side walk so long that they were laying on the ground. Why were they there? What was their story? Will this help with the violence? Even this weekend there are 24 wounded in Chicago and 4 dead. Could there be a change coming soon?
Another issue in Chicago is how to help the homeless. I have grown very used to walking past an individual without a home without thinking. The winter is a very difficult time for the homeless. As I crossed the street from the protestors I ran into my sister. Yes, my sister was in Chicago and no, we did not plan this. She was extremely surprised and happy to see me.
Chicago is a big city, yet, you can still run into someone you know. Every year my church takes the middle school and high schoolers to the city to hand out gloves and sandwiches to the homeless. Knowing how to take care of those without a home is hard. However, here is a group of people getting together to make a small change.
What to do with all of this around me? I never know. I usually try not to think about it. I love the street I was standing on. Michigan Ave is one of my favorite places. I have so many memories. From dates with a few past relationships, to going on business meetings with my dad, to visiting the American Girl Place with my mom. It is tempting to be another shopper on the street around Christmas time.
This time I decided to think and I started asking myself how could I link all of this together? This came to mind: Christmas lights. Winter is the most dreaded season in Chicago, yet, the strings of lights on a Christmas tree on Michigan Ave help make it better. The city is full of lights, yet the Christmas lights in December shine brightest.
There are millions of sounds, music and noises in the city. The sound of two people laughing together stands out to me. Little acts of kindness, people showing they care can be like a strand of Christmas lights on Michigan Ave.
Is your voice just another sound in the city or does it carry like laughter, lighting up a street?